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DEMOCRACY 

THROUGH INTIMIDATION 
AND TERROR 



DEMOCRACY 
THROUGH INTIMIDATION 
AND TERROR 

The Untold Story of Kashmir Politics 


Prem Nath Bazaz 



HERITAGE 



DEDICATED 

to those brave men and women of Kashmir who, defying 
intimidation, terror and lawlessness, heroically 
fought in the hectic days of 1977 elections, 
for civil liberties and democratic rights 
only to be crushed in the end by 
unrestrained hooligan hordes 



Preface 


'T'HE countries in the continents of Asia and Africa which 

achieved liberation from foreign rule during the past 
three decades have not, as was facilely expected, emerged as 
democratic nations with people enjoying civil liberties and 
human rights. Everywhere in these lands, euphemistically 
called the Third World, millions emancipated from alien 
domination are engaged in struggles to establish democratic 
principles and norms because they have been deprived of the 
benefits of independence. The only change elfected by the 
disappearance of imperialism has been the replacement of old 
masters by native despots among the politicians who are more 
ruthless, vain and cruel than those who were forced to leave by 
spontaneous mass uprisings against them. 

In the Third World, Indian Republic has a unique standing 
and is recognized as one of the few countries which has been 
successful in promoting democratic principles and strengthening 
democratic institutions initially established by the British 
imperialists. 

Though for nineteen months (June 1975 — January 1977) India 
came under the dark shadow of authoritarianism and was on the 
verge of being engulfed by dictatorship, it was miraculously 
rescued by the marvellous spirit of freedom displayed by 
enraged electorate at the hustings in the battle of the ballot in 
March 1977. Democracy was resurrected and set on its feet 
again. 



Preface 


ix 


prepare this comprehensive report on the political developments 
in the Kashmir State, a territory which continues to be disputed 
between India and Pakistan. More weighty reasons have 
prompted me to write it. 

In its first meeting the Ad Hoc Committee nominated me as 
the spokesman of the State Janata Party. I feel I must justify 
the trust reposed in me by giving an objective account of what 
happened in Kashmir and what I saw and experienced. 

I am of the opinion that the elections of 1977 were in line 
with five others previously held when National Conference or 
Congress Party ruled the state and which have been admitted 
by all fair-minded observers and the national press to have 
been disgracefully manipulated. 

Although the centralleadership of Janata Party expediently 
and Kashmir Ad Hoc Committee unwillingly conceded the 
victory of the National Conference at the polls, I refused to 
follow suit because I could not shut my eyes to glaring facts 
which, I have no doubt, conclusively prove that Kashmiris were 
raped. In these pages, I have made an attempt to tell the 
grim story of the struggle which the downtrodden Kashmiris 
fought with great hopes in May and June last year only to be 
crushed in the end by hooligan hordes. My aim in telling it, 
sup ported by available documents and coupled with my persona l 
knowledge, is to let the wo/ld public k now of the facts and 
fudge Torthems elves what TOrt of gov ernme nt has been imposed 
on the Kashmiris and in wh^mann e r and by what means. 

The State of Jammu and Kashmir is a multi-lingual and multi- 
religious territory. Broadly speaking, it is divided into three 
regions, namely, Jammu in the south, Kashmir Valley in the 
centre and Ladakh in the north which are respectively populated 
mostly by the Hindus, the Muslims and the Buddhists. 

The dispute between India and Pakistan as presented and 
debated upon in world forums including the Security Council, 
has been over the accession of the entire State, but. in the last 
analysis, it is the Valley and areas adjacent to it inhabited pre- 
dominantly by the Muslims which is the bone of contention. 
For that reason, attention in the present book has been paid 
mainly to the happenings, events and developements in this part 



Preface 


xi 


And, lastly, I deeply appreciate the ungrudging help ren dered 
by Mr. B.R. Chawla of Heritage Publishers f or bringing out this 
volume within the shortest possible time. 

Pittsburgh Prem Nath Bazaz 

U.S.A. 



Contents 


Preface vii 

1. The Much Abused Article 370 1 

2. Emergence of a School Teacher as Leader 8 

3. The Story of Betrayals 14 

4. The Anti-Abdullah Wave 28 

5. Bid for Alliance 37 

6. Rising Forces of Democracy 43 

7. Janata Voices Aspirations of State People 55 

8. False Issues Raised 68 

9. Hooliganism and Feigned Illness 71 

10. Bickerings in Kashmir Janata - 87 

11. The Partisan Governer and a Disappointed Adviser 95 

12. Incredible Bungling 109 

13. Black July Three : The Day of Terror 124 

14. Pledges Unredeemed 140 

15. Post-Election Excesses 148 

16. The Guilty Conscience 158 

17. The Losses and the Gains 168 

18. The Only Way Out 176 

19. Epilogue 184 

Appendices 193 

Index 218 



1 


The Much Abused Article 370 


N O other state in the Indian Union poses a problem beset 
with enormous difficulties as Kashmir. In 1947, at the 
time of independence, the Indian subcontinent was partitioned 
on the basis of religion professed by the people, to form two 
countries of Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan; only the State 
of Jammu and Kaslimir predominantly Muslim in population, 
led by the Hindu ruler and supported by a leading political 
party, the National Conference, acceded to Hindu India in 
defiance of the basic principle governing the partition. 

Constitutionally and legally, the accession of Kashmir to 
India was unexceptionable; there was no covenant to debar the 
State from doing so because the Act of British Parliament 
granting independence, allowed it. But law, written or un- 
written, has little value if people affected by it believe that it 
has been imposed on them against their will. In the appalling 
conditions prevalent in 1947 in the subcontinent few impartial 
observers could believe that the majority of the Kashmir 
Muslims would voluntarily support the accession; the frenzy 
and fanaticisih which preceded and followed the partition were 
factors hardly conducive to the alliance. It was through extra- 
ordinary courage and faith in the glorious future of Indian 
democracy that the Kashmiris threw in their lot with India. 
Sixty million Muslims belonging to the majority Muslim 



2 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


regions in the subcontinent had expressly voted for the partition 
and taken the fateful decision to live separately as a new nation; 
it, therefore, appeared vain to think that barely three million 
Kashmiris would like to willingly stay behind with India. The 
polarization of Hindu and Muslim politics as also the wild com- 
munal excitement accentuated by holocausts and bloodshed 
mocked at the venture. 

When, therefore, Congress Government of India accepted the 
accession offer of Kashmir jointly made by Maharaja Hari Singh 
and the National Conference leadership, it was fully aware of 
the tremendous difficulties which it was sure to encounter in 
integrating the State with Indian Union; it realized that consti- 
tutional and legal accession would be meaningless if it was not 
followed by emotional integration of the Kashmiris in the main- 
stream of India’s social and political life. Nine years after the 
accession was accepted as final and irrevocable, Prime Minister 
Jawaharlal Nehru, while replying to a debate on Kashmir in the 
Indian Parliament on August 7, 1956, had to remind the opposi- 
tion: “The strongest bonds that bind will not be your armies 
or even your Constitution to which so much reference has 
been made, but bonds which are stronger than the Constitution 
and laws and armies — bonds that bind through love and affec- 
tion and understanding”. These words are as true today as when 
they were spoken in a heated debate twenty-two years ago. 

It is true that the Kashmiris have an individuality of their 
own; in certain respects they differ from the rest of the Indians. 
Though on most of the political, economic and social matters 
facing newly-liberated people, the rest of Indians and Kashmiris 
are in agreement, there are a few issues, essentially cultural, 
emotional and sentimental which are viewed differently. At the 
time of partition extremism was rated high; moderation, balance 
and common sense were at a discount; a psychosis had been 
generated by horrible bloodshed and religious hysteria in both 
India and Pakistan. It was, however, hoped that with passage 
of time good sense would berestored, differences would gradually 
disappear, suspicions and fears allayed, making it possible for 
Kashmir to become an integral part of India as any other 
linguistic and administrative region of the vast country, and the 
Kashmiris would be happy, contended and prosperous. 



The Much Abused Article 370 


3 


Nevertheless, it is clear that the huge task of absorbing Muslim 
dominated Kashmir with India was no easy one; it demanded 
for its accomplishment, virtues of statesmanship, generosity, 
farsightedness, accommodation and, above all, selflessness on 
the part of both Indian publicmen and Kashmir leadership. As 
we shall see in the course of this study, both have been found 
wanting in these during the past three decades with the result 
that the problem of emotional mtegration of Kashmir with India 
remains unsolved to this day and stares fiercely in our face as it 
did in 1947. The recent elections to the State Legislature have 
aggravated it. 

It is fair to recognize that soon after the acceptance of Instru- 
ment of Accession in 1947, Indian leaders made a good start; 
they were quite generous in handling the Kashmir State affairs. 
In the bulky, liberal Constitution which the Indian Constituent 
Assembly produced in a surprisingly short period of two years 
after achievement of independence, an article was inserted to 
assure the Kashmiris that they would be free to shape their 
own destiny as they desired and nothing would be imposed on 
them by Indian Parliament where Hindus would be in overwhel- 
ming majority and able to carry everything before them by sheer 
force of numbers. 

The Article 370 of the Constitution which conferred a special 
status on Kashmir State was specifically meant to be a tempo- 
rary provision as the Constitution-makers were fully confident 
that the close association of the people of Kashmir with free 
democratic India would convince them of their bright future 
by becoming an integral part of the Republic. According to 
this provision the Article 238, which is applicable to all other 
states, did not apply to Jammu and Kashmir. The Article 370 
further limited the powers of the Indian Parliament to make laws 
about matters detailed in the Union List and the Concurrent 
List of the Constitution. Thus while remaining within the frame- 
work of Indian Constitution the Kashmir State virtually attained 
an autonomous status not enjoyed by any other state of the 
Republic of India. However, the Constitution-makers envisaged 
the day when the need of the temporary provision would end 
and the Article 370 abrogated. But this step was to be taken 
not at the behests of any extraneous authority, not even at the 



4 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


demand of the Indian pablic opinion, hov/ever united or strong 
on the subject, but at the express v/ish of the people of Jammu 
and Kashmir. The concluding part of the Article 370 laid down 
that the President of India may by public notification, declare 
that this Article shall cease to be operative with such exception 
asspecifiedbut the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly 
of the Kashmir State to this effect shall be necessary before the 
President issues such a notification. 

This v/as the outline of the blueprint drawn for the establish- 
ment of a democratic society in Kashmir in indissoluble partner- 
ship with India by the distinguished Constitution-makers, 
The Indian leaders had to prove not only by their v/ords but 
also through their deeds that the Muslims could live like free, 
respectable and equal citizens of India as envisaged in the 
Constitution, cominced that their fears entertained at the 
time of partition were mostly unfounded. The leaders of 
Kashmir had to satisfy the people that through securalism alone 
they could achieve political and cultural freedom as well as 
economic progress within India than by forming part of Muslim 
Pakistan. 

The grant of special status and complete internal autonomy 
under provisions of the Article 370 did not in practice prove an 
unmixed blessing for the people of Kashmir. National leaders 
started with certain assumptions and took certain things 
for granted. They believed that with British Imperialism 
religious acrimony vdll also vanish and there svould be no more 
. Hindu-^duslim clashes in India. Unfortunately, this happy 
development did not take plac-e and, in fact, estrangement 
between the two communitres became acute in certain respects 
making the philosophy of Indian secularism suspect in the 
eyes of religious minorities, 

^ Undaunted, toe Kashmiri leaders put their best Toot forv/ardj 
they assaverated that Kashmir v/as wedded to secular ideology 
and would n^n flinch from it; the State people would protect 
their liberty with lifeblood and build a society of their dreams. 
The first important step taken by the State leaders was to pre- 
pare a I SE-dzme constitution of their own for conducting the 
autonomous status and the authority v/hich the Indian Consti- 
tution had specifically gr/en to Jammu and Kashmir alone. 



The Much Abused Article 370 


5 


The State Constitution which was ready by November 17, 1956, 
Came into force on January 16, 1957. 

Apart from the ways and the metliods of using the powers 
reserved for Jammu and Kashmir, the State Constituent Assembly 
banished the Maharaja and terminated the hereditary rulership 
of the Dogra-Hindu dynasty. Unlike the heads of the other 
state governments in the Indian Union, the head of Kashmir 
Government was called prime minister, and not chief minister, 
of the state. The head of the state, to be elected by the people, 
was significantly called Sadar-i-Riyasat (President of the State) 
and not Governor as in other states. The medium of instruc- 
tion in the schools and the official language tliroughout the 
State was to be Urdu and Hindi recognized as lingua franca by 
the Indian. Constitution, was not to enjoy that prominence as in 
the rest of the country. In this way the sentiments of the 
Kashmiris were respected and their fears of being immediately 
absorbed in the overwhelming Hindu majority of India allayed; 
their autonomy was preserved; their identity left undiminished. 

Taking advantage of the special status conferred on it, 
Kashmir registered unprecedented progress in various fields of 
social life. The recruitment of Kashmiris in the army had been 
stopped by the Mughals and successive foreign rulers for over 
four centuries. To vindicate their honour, the new leadership 
established National Militia in which were recruited young men 
from the Valley in different ranks according to their physical 
fitness and intellectual capacity. By far the most important 
measure was opening of primary and higher secondary schools 
at short distances from each other and colleges in big towns; 
the children of poor classes were provided with the opportunity 
for education upto high level. What is notable, the education 
was free from primary stages to the university level as nowhere 
else in the Indian Union or Pakistan. Rapid changes occurred 
in the field of education at every level and the number of not 
only boy students multiplied by several times but girl students 
also swarmed into educational institutions despite the orthodox 
and religion-ridden attitude of their parents; while the increase 
in the number of boys exceeded 70 per cent within two decades, 
it was over 760 per cent in the case of girls. 



6 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


Kashmir leaders acted with promptitude, courage and revolu- 
tionary zeal in the economic field: jagirs (fiefs) and big landed 
estates were abolished; ceiling was put on possession of agri- 
cultural land; no one was allowed to have more than six acres 
of cultivable soil. The laud seized from absentee landlords was 
distributed among landless tenants. Old debts amounting to 
millions of rupees were liquidated to improve the condition of 
indigent, poverty-stricken, indebted masses. Cottage industries 
were subsidized and entreprenems were financially helped to 
start small-scale manufacturing imits. A number of factories 
were set up at different places. Many roads were constructed 
connecting towns, villages and cities. A transport system, cheap, 
efficient and regular, was established carrying thousands of 
passengers from one comer of the State to the other every day. 
All towns and a large number of villages were electrified. 

These improvements in the social and economic life of the 
people were not insignificant. After a long period of wretched 
poverty and semi-starvation the Kashmiris were witnessing the 
dawn of a new era of prosperity which was shared more or less 
by all classes and communities. 

But this is a glimpse of only a positive and bright aspect of 
the autonomous status conferred on the State. Unfortunately, 
dismal developments, unforeseen by the Constitution-makers 
occurred to tarnish the fair picture. Worse still, ugliness over- 
shadowed beauty and in course of time the autonomy became a 
source of hardships and miseries to the people of Kashmir. 

The autonomous status could be utilized for the advantage 
and benefit of the State people from the highest to the humblest 
as was sagaciously envisioned by the farsighted Constitution- 
makers but it could also be pressed into service for fulfilment 
of ambitions and lust for power by designing and unscmpulous 
leaders. It did not take them long to imderstand that in the 
name of democracy they could enrich themselves and fulfil 
their own ambitions by means, fair or foul. The baseness of 
Kashmir politics did not come into focus all at once but came 
gradually to public notice; it did not, however, escape the atten- 
tion of intelligent obseiA^ers who pointed it out from the outset. 

Early in the fifties, the State was passing through a critical 
period when a momentous decision had to be taken in the 



The Much Abused Article 370 


7 


interest of democracy: Was the special status and autonomy 
conferred on the State under Article 370 to pave way for integra- 
tion of Kashmir with the rest of India by assuring State people 
of their political, social and cultural freedom or was it meant 
to allow the State politicians, especially Kashmir Muslim 
leaders, untrammeled opportunity for exploitation of the 
ignorairt, gullible and backward masses? It was a moot point 
which probably never occurred to stalwarts of the Congress 
party in early days of independence when they evinced 
fullest confidence in the honesty, sincerity and love, for 
teeming millions of National Conference leadership. Capture 
and enjoyment of power brought an awareness to the favourite 
leaders that the integration of the State with India, however 
desirable, was antagonistic to their private interest; no sooner 
than the objective was achieved, their own importance would 
cease and opinion of State people would grow in importance 
and weight. 

Therefore, to keep people in darkness and not to make them 
politically conscious and socially awakened became a vested 
interest of Kashmir politicians. A policy was evolved to make 
Kashmir Muslims feel perpetually in terror of the hostile Hindu 
majority and depend upon the local coreligionist leaders for 
protection against it. Article 370 was frequently maligned and 
abused, and conditions were created not to allow it to outgrow 
its utility as originally intended but to make it a permanent 
feature of the Indian Constitution. In this atmosphere while the 
leaders thrived, the position of average Kashmiri worsened. 
The Central leadership of the Congress was caught in a web 
woven by the National Conference leaders before they could 
realize what was happening. 

When this ugly aspect of the State politics came dimly to 
their notice or was forced on their attention by realities of the 
situation, National leaders could, in the beginning, hardly believe 
it; a little later they pooh-poohed it; and finally felt helpless to 
effectively deal with it. Consequently, in disregard of the growing 
resentment of the people, the State was handed over to the 
leaders as their fief with the result that it kept the problem of 
integration of Kashmir people with the rest of India alive for 
the past thirty years and till today. 



2 

Emergence of 

a School Teacher as Leader 


T hroughout the greater part of their historj', Kashmiris 
have suffered misrule and tyranny. After the death of 
Sultan Zain-ul-abidin, popularly kno'mi as Bud shah (The 
Great Monarch), in 1372 A.D., the Valley has been subject to 
despotism and terror. By turns, later Shahmiris, Cheks, 
Mughals, Pathans, Sikhs and Dogras have harshly ruled over • 
the mountain-girt land fleecing the people and leaving them in 
abject penury. 

Kashmir Valley lost its age-old identity when Raja Gulab 
Singh, the Dogra Hindu chieftain of Jammu, purchased it 
from the British rulers after the rout of Sikhs in the Punjab 
and with their consent and backing created, in 1846, the present 
State comprising of the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and 
Ladakh under the Treaty of Amritsar. 

Administratively forming part of the Indian subcontinent 
under British Imperialism, the national aw'akening w'hich came 
to British India by the turn of the centuiy spread in the 
late twenties to the State as well. The struggle for India’s 
freedom deeply influenced the Kashmiris w’ho staged, in 1931, 
a rebellion to liberate themselves from ancient slavery by 
demanding basic human and political rights and removal of 
innumerable grievances in social, political and economic fields. 



Emergence of a School Teacher as Leader 


9 


It was an uphcavcl unknown in contemporary history and like a 
terrific storm carried cvcrjMhing before it. It was led by a group 
of Muslim nobles headed by a religious prcaclicr, Mirwaiz 
Mohammad Yusuf Shah, whom the Muslim community respect- 
ed as a holy man and a licreditary leader. Men and women of 
all classes and ages were involved in the movement; youths and 
zealots were conspicuous among them. 

A group of educated young men took a prominent part in 
the uprising; among them was a devoted school teacher, Sheikh 
Mohammad Abdullah, who was the first among the Muslims to 
earn the M. Sc. degree from the Aligarh Muslim University. 
He caught the imagination of the Muslim public and sought 
the patronage of Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah and his colleagues. In 
public meetings, Abdullah recited verses from the Holy Quran 
in a sonorous and melodious voice with which he was gifted. 
He aroused religious passions of the Muslims and .stirred their 
emotions against the atrocities perpetrated by the Hindu 
Monarchy. This brought him much popularity among the 
backward, ignorant and religion-ridden masses. Within weeks 
he became a hero of the Kashmiris, cynosure of less fortunate 
public men and rival of the old guard. He began to be 
addressed by his followers as Shcr-i-Kashmir (Lion of Kashmir). 

Soon Abdullah fell out with Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah whom he 
Nvanicd to outshine and ovenshadow'. A great rift occurred in 
the Muslim community which could never be closed and has 
descended from generation to generation. Abdullah organized 
a band of young men who through hooligan acts fought the 
followers of Mirwaiz. As early as 1933, Kashmir Muslims were 
divided into two political sects, the Bakras (the goats, as the 
adherents of Mirwaiz began to be called for sporting beards) 
and 5/;er.y (as the followers of Sheikh Abdullah arc known). 

The two main elements which brought Abdullah into pro- 
minence in public life were the arousal of religious passions 
of the Kashmir Muslims against Dogra rule and Hindu-domi- 
nated administration and application of rowdyism against his 
rivals. 

Consequently, though in reality a revolt against Dogra 
despotism, the uprising of 1931-34 took a communal turn in 



10 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


which a number of Hindu shops and houses were looted, 
property destroyed and some Hindus were killed by the 
miscreants. As a class, therefore, the Hindus opposed the 
liberation movement and have been antagonistic to it ever 
since. 

In order to understand the essence of Kashmir politics during 
the last 45 years, it is well to remember that whatever his pro- 
fession of faith and acceptance of principles, Abdullah has 
invariably utilized the two w'eapons whenever occasion arose 
during the course of his political career to vanquish his political 
rivals or those others who stood in the way of fulfilment of his 
ambitions. He made groups of hoodlums part of his political 
organization like the storm troopers in Nazi Germany. They 
would terrorize and cow down into silence everyone who 
disagreed, criticised or opposed Sher-i-Kashmir and his caucus. 
In late thirties and forties Sheikh himself was seen moving 
around in Srinagar with a stick in his hand beating men 
whom he suspected to harbour ill will tow'ards him. Mirwaiz 
Yusuf Shah could not match Sheikh’s bid for popularity and 
the Bakras, unwilling to take up cudgels against the hooligans, 
shrank in numbers and remained confined in certain pockets of 
the city and the countryside. The future course of Kashmir 
politics had thus been determined; it was to be religious in 
character with upperhand of the hooligans. 

In 1932, while still on friendly terms with his first patron, 
Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah, Sheikh Abdullah, in cooperation with all 
other Muslim leaders of the period, established Jammu and 
Kashmir Muslim Conference under which political activities 
were carried on legally and constitutionally. After the rift, in 
search of support from All India Congress leadership and 
national press, he converted the Muslim Conference into 
National Conference throwing open its membership to non- 
Muslims also. But essentially the organization remained as it 
was before; the same communal outlook, the same approach 
to life and the same goal to achieve, that is personal ends of the 
coterie he had formed. Jawaharlal Nehru, who was lacking in 
the ability to judge people, took a fancy for Abdullah as was 
his wont for all Muslim adventurers of dubious merits. This 
enabled Sheikh to get more than what he wanted and deserved: 



Emergence of a School Teacher os Leader 


11 


international fame and stable public position. He was also 
successful in pushing into background Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah for 
a number of years. 

But to Sheikh’s misfortune the issue of partition of the 
Indian subcontinent on religious grounds assumed the greatest 
importance in Kashmir politics: Muslims were heavily swayed 
by Pakistan ideology; the ship of National Conference cracked 
and was sinking; the ranks of Sheikh’s adversaries swelled; 
Mixwaiz's following gained in numbers by leaps and bounds. 
The momentous event tried AbdulhUi's mettle and brought out 
the salient features of his character unreliability and proncncss 
to betrayal of followers, friends and associates. Even after 
having closely associated himself with Congress leaders for a 
number of years, as the partition loomed large on the horizon, 
Sheikh consulted wisdom in making friendship with Mohammad 
Ali Jinnah, the arch enemy of Congress party and Indian 
nationalism. He invited the Muslim League dictator to visit 
Kashmir in May 1944, assess the local public opinion, arbitrate 
between him and Mirwaiz Yusuf and oblige Sheikh by recogni- 
zing him as leader of the State Muslims. He assured Jinnah that 
though secularist by profession he worked wholly and singlc- 
mindcdly for State Muslims, In contrast to Nehru, Jinnah was 
able to size up a man accurately. He spent days and weeks in 
giving patient hearing to local politicians of diflcrcnt shades 
of opinion before making up his mind. Then on the memo- 
rable night of June 17, 1944, in a mammoth public meeting at 
Jama Masjid he pronounced his verdict unfavourable to 
Abdullah which sent the latter into jitters; he then fell foul of his 
guest. For a number of days Sheikh addressed public meetings 
and denounced Jinnah and incited his followers who assaulted 
Bakras on streets to silence them and also looted several shops. 

Before departure from Kashmir, Jinnah issued, on July 24, 
a statement to the Press in which, among other things, he said: 

“I regret that although Sheikh Abdullah and his party and 
the Muslim Conference discussed matters with me in Delhi and 
in Lahore before my arrival here, and were good enough to 
accord me a great reception, and were anxious that I should 
hear both sides and bring about a settlement, when I, after 
careful consideration, suggested that the Mussalmans should 



12 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


organize themselves under one flag and on one platform, not 
only my advice was not acceptable to Sheikh Abdullah but, 
as is his habit, which has become a second nature with him, 
he indulged in all sorts of language of a most offensive and 
vituperative character in attacking me. My advice to the 
Mussalmans is that the differences can only be resolved by 
argument, discussion, exchange of views and reason, and not 
by goondaism and one thing that I must draw the attention of 
the Kashmir Government about is that goondaism must be 
put down at any cost, and there should be a constitutional 
liberty of speech and freedom of thought, which is the 
elementary right of every citizen under any civilized form of 
government”.^ 

Frustrated and crestfallen, Abdullah returned to the 
Congress fold and with redoubled vigour championed the 
cause of Indian nationalism and communal unity. Obviously 
no alternative was left to him but to be on the side of India 
for in Muslim Pakistan under the Qaide-Azam Jinnah^ he 
could easily visualize the end of his political career besides 
public humiliation and even something worse. Yet, while on 
the one hand he raised the slogan of Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Itihad 
(unity of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs) as a challenge to the two- 
nation theory of the Muslim League, on the other, he continu- 
ed to send emissaries to Jinnah, seeking pardon and reconcilia- 
tion on agreeable terms but the triumphant creator of the new 
Muslim State would hear no appeals until the errant Kashmiri 
appeared before him in sack cloth and ashes. Thus no choice 
was left for the Sheikh but to make best of a bad situation. In 
the dismal days when the Congress party and its nationalism 
had become a bugbear to the Muslims, political leaders like 
Abdullah were in great demand in Congress camp. Despite 
his abberation, he was, therefore, warmly welcomed back and 
received with open arms. He became the trumpet-bearer of 

Dawn Delhi, dated July 25, 1944. See also The History of Struggle 
y 212^^°'^ (1954), Pamposh Publications, 

“Qaide-Azam (Big Leader) is the title conferred on Jinnah by the 

us ims which was officially confirmed by Pakistan National Assembly 
alter it came into existence in 1947. 



Emergence of a School Teacher as Leader 


13 


anti-Pakistan tirades, the loudest opponent of two-nation 
theory and a staunch supporter of Indian nationalism. The 
few Muslims in public eye who .adhered to Congress ideology 
were particularly patronized by Jawaharlal Nehru irrespective 
of the veracity of their statements or sincerity of their profes- 
sions. Abdullah had an additional merit of belonging to a stale 
where Muslims were in a preponderating majority and there- 
fore ipso facto taken as belonging to Pakistan. He was lionized, 
his courage admired, his honesty and sincerity applauded. 
Like a new star in the political firmament of India he shone 
brilliantly diizzling Indian public; he was ranked ns an incom- 
parable hero of eminence and distinction. 



3 

The Story of Betrayals 


A ccepting the instrument of Accession, Lord Mounl- 
batten the first governor-general of free India, wrote in 
his letter dated October 27, 1947, to Maharaja Hari Singh : 

“In consistence with their policy that in the case of any 
(native) state where the issue of accession has been the 
subject of dispute, the question of accession should be 
decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the 
state, it is my Government’s wish that as soon as law and 
order have been restored in Kashmir and her soil cleared of 
the invader the question of state’s accession should be settled 
by a referendum to the people”. 

In a speech from All-India Radio on November 2, 1947, 
Jawaharlal Nehru confirmed the assurance given by the 
governor-general by saying : 

“We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to 
be decided by the people. That pledge we have given and 
the Maharaja has supported it, not only to the people of 
Jammu and Kashmir, but also to the world. We will not 
and caimot back out of it. We are prepared when peace 
and law have been established to have a referendum held 
under international auspices like the United Nations. We 
want it to be fair and just reference to the people and we 



The Story of Betrayals 


15 


shall accept their verdict. I can imagine no fairer and justcr 
offer”. 

When the issue was presented to the United Nations in early 
1948, the Security Council, after giving patient hearing to the 
accredited representatives of the two disputants — India and 
Pakistan— and after holding long debates, decided that the 
problem should be settled by holding an impartial and free 
plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations. 

For four years Nehru repeated the assurance of holding 
the referendum; then in 1952 he suddenly backed out on the 
flimsy and irrelevant c.xcusc that since Pakistan had entered 
into a military alliance with a big power (USA) the question 
of referring the matter to the Slate people did not arise and 
the accession became final and irrevocable. It was clearly a 
betrayal of the trust the Kashmiris had placed in Nehru as 
intrepid champion of human and democratic rights of people 
everywhere in the world. 

Fully aware though he was that the Kashmiris were by 
and large desirous of joining Pakistan, Abdullah made the 
National Conference to adopt a resolution in October 1947. 
soon after the partition, declaring that the State of Jammu and 
Kashmir stood for accession to India. Having picked up a 
quarrel with redoubtable Jinnah whose vindictive nature was 
well known, he could not but hitch his wagon to the Indian star 
to save himself from a dreadful fate that awaited him if the 
State joined Pakistan. It was a move purely to save himself and 
build up his political career. All his claims that the step was 
taken for the good of the minorities or to uphold great princi- 
ples of secularism and democracy carry little weight. Yet it is 
worthwhile to examine his emphatic assertions at the time 
which he subsequently falsified in 1953 to the chargin of his 
Indian admirers like Nehru. 

Explaining on June 1948, why he induced the National Con- 
ference to accept the State’s accession to India, Abdullah 
said: “ We the people of Jammu and Kashmir, have thrown 
our lot with Ind ian peop le not in the heat of passion or a 
moment of despair, but by dcHh^ate choice. Th cTunion of our 
' ifeopleTias j een fused by the commm^tv of idcal^d~T:b"^riT 
sufferings m the cause of freedom”. He assured Jawaharlal in 



16 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


a meeting in 1948: “We have made our choice and linked our 
destiny with India and nothing ean separate us now”. On 
March 7, 1949, he declared: “We have decided to work with 
and die for India”. Addressing the State Constituent Assembly 
on November 5, 1951, he confessed: “The Indian Constitution 
has put before the country the goal of secular democracy 
based on justice, freedom and equality for all without distinc- 
tion. This is the bedrock of modern democracy. This should 
meet the argument that the Muslims of Kashmir cannot have 
security in India where the large majority of population are 
Hindus. . . The Indian Constitution has amply and finally 
repudiated the concept of a religious state which is a throw- 
back to medievalism by guaranteeing the equality of rights of 
all citizens irrespective of their religion, colour, caste and 
class”. 

Such was the burden of Abdullah’s statements, speeches and 
utterances for seven years (1947-1953) as long as India allowed 
him to rule arbitrarily and despotically over the State people. 
But towards the end of 1952 it became manifest that the public 
resentment against Abdullah’s authoritarianism was mounting; 
corruption, nepotism and high-handedness were assuming 
intolerable proportions. Besides, he was becoming too big for 
his bools and was, in his moments of vanity, forgetting the fact 
of Kashmir being only a constituent unit of a federal republic. 
He was assuming authority to which he was not entitled and 
adopting measures harmful to the mutual interest of the state 
and the centre. 

Belatedly, the Government of India realized that the policy of 
depending on one man in disregard of the feelings of the State 
people in general was unwise and it is incumbent that it should 
curb the, undemocratic, antipcoplc activities of the Sheikh, Some 
measures were taken to this end. His inflated ago was hurt but 
having been spoiled for many years with an exaggerated estima- 
tion of himself, he reacted overly resulting in his deposition 
from prime ministership, arrest and imprisonment on August 
9, 1953, for delivering speeches and making statements contradic- 
tory to all the solemn declarations of Kashmir’s unity with 
India referred to above. A few hundred of his co-workers, 



The Story of Betrayals 


17 


supporters and hooligans were also sent beliind bars. In support- 
ing the Maharaja’s proposal in 1947 for State’s accession to 
India without giving a chance to the Kashmiris to express their 
will on the vital issue, Abdullah had betrayed his own people. 
Six years later, by exciting his followers to defy the authority of 
the central government he was betraying those of his patrons 
who not only gave him refuge and saved him from being 
consumed by Jinnah's wrath but also put him in power and posi- 
tion of eminence in international field. 

Now the pendulum went to the other side. Abdullah flatly 
denied that the State people had finally or irrevocably decided to 
accede to India; they had, he stressed, yet to make their choice 
and should be provided with an opportunity through a free 
referendum what they desired to do. He saw danger to the 
security and safety of Kashmir Muslims from predominant 
Hindu population of India. Gone were the days when he was 
sure of the affinity of the high principles equally cherished by 
both Kashmir and India. He began even to appreciate the views 
of Pakistan leaders and saw sense in their policies and doings. 
He did not deny that Pakistan had locus standi in Kashmir, 
When his lieutenant Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beg was released 
in 1955, he formed a new political party called Plebiscite Front, 
with the main aim of securing the right of self-determination 
for the State people. Obviously it was a betrayal of the repeated 
and firm assurances given to India regarding accession of the 
State for eight years. The slogans of the Plebiscite Front roused 
religious passions of the Muslims, a large number of whom 
rallied around its banner in the hope that Abdullah and his 
colleagues had correctly comprehended their mistake committed 
in 1947 and were anxious to rectify it. 

Abdullah’s expectations that Kashmir will rise in flames as a 
result of his incarceration were belied. No doubt, many Muslims 
in the Valley were deluded by his new call but many more 
remembering his treachery and hooligan deeds belittled his 
somersault and the large majority remained unconcerned at his 
misfortune. He and liis staunch supporters had to remain in 
wilderness for two decades while some of his more astute and 
close associates like Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, Ghulam 
Mohammad Sadiq, D.P; Dhar, Mir Qasim and others captured 



The Story of Betrayals 


19 


outlook on life, I met him in New Delhi in winter 1968 
with a proposal that a convention of State people may be held 
on non-party basis where the future of Kashmir could be consi- 
dered and an acceptable formula found out for the solution of 
accession dispute. Thinking that it might help in ending the 
impasse to which he had brought the Kashmir politics and his 
own public career, he agreed and asked me to go ahead with 
the implementation of the proposal. We formed a sponsors 
committee of a people’s convention of which I became the con- 
vener. Other four members were : Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah 
(chairman), Maulana Mohammad Sayed Masoodi, Mirza 
Mohammad Afzal Beg and Shanura Ahmad Shamim. Later on 
we co-opted some other public figures to form the steering 
committee. They were; Mirwaiz Mohammad I'arooq (nephew 
of Mirwaiz Mohammad Yusuf who had been along with 
thousands of Kashmiris exiled to Pakistan), Gulam Mohiuddin 
Karra, Motilal Misri, Balraj Puri, G. M. Shah and Sant Singh 
Teg. These men were of independent views but not likeminded; 
the only meeting ground between them was the belief that the 
Kashmir issue existed and a solution acceptable to the State 
people alone could resolve it. 

The first session of the Jammu and Kashmir State People’s 
Convention was held in Srinagar on October 18, 1968; it 
was attended by 260 delegates hailing from all parts of the 
State. Among the participants, besides politicians, were educa- 
tionists, lawyers, journalists, retired civil servants, judges, 
doctors and businessmen. The convention was inaugurated by 
Jayaprakash Narayan. About 25 delegates were non Mu.slim. 
No fewer than 56 papers presenting different viewpoints on the 
accession problem were read at the Convention. 

The Convention unanimously adopted a resolution “reaffirm- 
ing the principle that a solution of the problem, acceptable to 
the people of the State, keeping in view the interests of all 
regions, can alone resolve the dispute and restore normalcy and 
tranquillity in Jammu and Kashmir and in the subcontinent, 
instructed the steering committee to properly tabulate the 
presented material for submission to and discussion in the 
second session in order to pave the way for finding a peaceful, 
democratic, just, realistic and lasting solution of the issue”. 



20 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


The Convention did not fulfil the ambitions of Abdullah 
as he had expected because it brought him no nearer to the 
achievement of personal power. He adopted an ambivalent 
position on the one hand stressing that accession to India 
was not final and on the other pressurizing India to take him 
into confidence by installing him in power as the genuine 
representative of the State people. He did not succeed in it 
but only caused delay in holding the second session of the Con- 
vention until May, 1970. The pourparlers and the outcome of 
the second session were disappointing; the enthusiasm, sincerity 
and sense of purpose witnessed in the first session were no 
longer in evidence. Both Sheikh and Beg avoided tackling vital 
issues and postponed taking concrete and substantial decisions 
which could have lent reality to the Convention and fulfilled 
the hopes raised by the first session. It was clear that Abdullah 
had little desire to find a democratic solution of the Kashmir 
problem because his sole aim of capturing power was nowhere 
in sight. There was no reason to believe that by long suffering 
and reflection in prison he had emerged a changed man with 
faith in democracy and freedom of the people. It was clear that 
he had learned nothing and unlearned nothing. At the conclu- 
sion of the second session the delegates went back sad and 
disappointed v/ith little hope of achieving any fruitful results 
from the State People’s Convention. To everybody’s dismay, all 
efforts to establish democratic traditions and norms in State 
politics had proved abortive. I decided not to remain associated 
with the Convention any longer so as not to become instrumen- 
tal in assisting Abdullah to achieve his personal ends. 

Thereafter Sheikh Abdullah spent a couple of years in woo- 
ing through different channels the Congress Government at 
New Delhi to restore him to power. But he did not indicate 
any change in his position regarding accession. Therefore, there 
could not be any favourable response to his overtures. The 
failure compelled him to revive the Convention which had at 
least kept him in public eye, 

I was suq>risedtohaveaIctterfrom Abdullah written on 

pri , 1973, in which he complained that I did not bother 
even to phone him up for two years, “We have been colleagues 
or long standing and have worked together through great stress 



The Story of Betrayals 


21 


and strain. Naturally I had expected a call from you”, he 
wrote. Coming to the main purpose of writing to me, he 
pleaded : 

“You will remember that you sponsored the idea of holding 
the convention of various shades of political opinion in the 
State in order to evolve a solution to the Kashmir problem 
acceptable to all. 1 accepted the idea and w'c started to work it 
out. We went through dilTerent phases and as far ns I can say 
we did make considerable progress in thrashing out the various 
problems and identifying the basic issues involved. However, 
as ill luck would have it, we were again involved in political 
situations which prevented further progress in the pursuit of 
the objectives we had set for ourselves. But now the atmos- 
phere has undergone considerable chtmge and there is a feeling 
growing all over the State as well as in India that some eflcctivc 
steps ought to be taken which will end the stalemate over 
Kashmir.” 

Proceeding further he revealed : “On my return from Delhi 
I had the chance to meet friends of various shades of political 
opinion in Jammu who unanimously suggested that the activi- 
ties of the convention should be revived and another session 
called in Srinagar to take up the tlircads left at the last session. 
I welcomed the suggestion wholeheartedly. Upon arrival in 
Srinagar I had a talk with Beg Sahib, Maulana Masoodi and 
Shamim Sahib, the other co-sponsors of the convention. It was 
agreed that a meeting of the five sponsors should be held to take 
stock of the situation and decide the future course of action”. 

Concluding the letter, Abdullah added : 

“I will not be wrong if I say that the idea of the convention 
is your baby and it is your bounden duty to see that the conven- 
tion achieves the objectives for which it was convened. You 
have a very important role to play in making it a success. May 
I, therefore, request you to take a few days out of your very 
busy schedule and come to Srinagar to give your other collea- 
gues the benefit of your valuable advice in the matter. Any day 
which is convenient to you will suit us. I hope that you will not 
disappoint me.” 

Having undergone some very unhappy experiences during 
the days of second session of the Convention and having 



22 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


realized tliat tlie Sheikh v.'as not a man to be relied upon for 
the establishment of democracj' in Kashmir because he v/as 
primarily actuated and indeed dominated by the idea of gaining 
personal pov/er. I could see through his suggestion and was 
reluctant to accept it. I sent him a reply that he was responsi- 
ble for the failure of the second session and it was futile to call 
another session. Until he was prepared to change his basic 
approach to Kashmir politics such endeavours were bound to 
end in smoke. Besides, I added, he had by his behaviour 
provoked the hostility of some of the distinguished members 
of the Convention like Maulana Mosoodi and Mirwaiz Farooq 
whom we ma}' not be able to mollify, 

Another reason, too, prevented me from accepting the 
proposal. I was scheduled to leave for America on a trip of four 
months on May 10 w'hich made it difficult for me to meet 
AbduUah. But his insistence, and persuasion of some mutual 
friends made me to 5 'ield and I w’ent to Srinagar on May 7 to 
have an exchange of ideas with him, V/e were successful in 
holding a meeting of the sponsors’ committee on the same date 
in the evening at his residence which lasted many hours. At 
the end w'e drew certain conclusions. Since I was of the strong 
view that the leaders of the Convention should no longer 
remain ambiguous about their opinions and the Convention 
should place a cut and dried formula before the countr>', I was 
directed to prepare a draft manifesto for consideration of the 
sponsors’ co mmi ttee. The manifesto would then be placed 
before the steering committee for its approval. After having 
undergone necessary alterations, additions and amendments, if 
any, the mam'festo was expected to be ready by September, 1973 
when I v/ould return from the States. We also agreed that the 
third session of the Convention v/ould take place by the end of 
the 5 ear for examining the document. If approved by the 
delegates, the manifesto would be published and wddely circula- 
ted among the State people for their final acceptance. 

The plan appealed to me as sensible and bearing seeds of 
dmoCTatic procedure. I returned to Nev/ Delhi and as very 
little time v/as at my disposal, I spent every minute to prepare a 
draft of the manifesto. On the eve of my departure for the 
taies I despatched its tv/o t^'ped copies through two difierent 



The Story of Betrayals 


23 


channels lo Abdullah to ensure that it reached him. I had no 
knowledge during the period of my absence in America of wliat. 
the Sheikh, the sponsors’ committee or the steering committee 
did with the draft manifesto. On my return to India on 
September 14. 1 eagerly waited in New Delhi to hear about it. 
J wrote to the Sheikh and enquired from S.A. Shamim but both 
had nothing to report about it. Then to my amazement I read in 
the prc.ss a statement by Abdullah to Lamina Times saying that 
he believed the accession of Ktishmir State to India was 
complete and final, only he had dificrcnccs about the quantum 
of autonomy the State could enjoy under the Con.stitution This 
w'as a volte face in view of what the Sheikh had been holding 
during the two sessions of the Convention. I fell p.articularly 
aggrieved. With one short public statement he had undone all 
our work and given the Convention an indecent burial. It was 
subsequently revealed that the .statement had been inspired by 
a stalwart of the Congress party and was in line with Sheikh’s 
aim of achieving personal power. 

A few months later small and insignificant reports began to 
appear in the national press that on the basis ofthc r/me.v 
interview negotiations had started between M. A. Beg represent- 
ing Abdullah and G. S. Parthasarthi, an emissary of Prime 
Minister Indira Gandhi, to have a deal over the future of 
Kashmir. Without any qualms but in a characteristic manner. 
Abdullah had launched on a fresh adventure to achieve his own 
ends behind the back of State people. 

The protracted negotiations were carried on secretly and the 
Kashmiris were not taken into confidence until the deal was 
struck early in 1975. The outcome put down in the shape of an 
agreement between Sheikh Abdullah and Mrs. Indira Gandhi, 
Prime Minister, is known as Kashmir Accord. It was presented 
to the Indian Parliament along with all the relevant corrc.spon- 
dence on February 24, 1975, with a statement by the Prime 
Minister. Some admissions and remarks by the concerned give 
the essence of the Accord. In his letter dated February 1 1 , 1975, 
Abdullah said : “The accession of the State of Jammu and 
Kashmir to India is not a matter in issue”. Mirza Afzal Beg 
stated on February 6, 1975, that : “In the changed circumstances 
plebiscite had become irrelevant and that the name and objectives 



24 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


of the Plebiscite Front have to be changed accordingly”. It will 
be recalled that both the leaders had rigidly insisted till the last 
in the State People’s Convention that accession was the main 
problem and the only way to solve it was the holding of a 
plebiscite. As a matter of fact, they refused to budge an inch 
from this position. Now that their aim of securing personal 
power was insight both of them readily abandoned the position 
and servilely accepted the Central Government’s terms. 

To keep his face before the Kashmiris, the Sheikh submitted 
a demand that whatever laws had been passed and applied to 
Kashmir during the period when he was not in power (1953- 
1975) may be revised and those tmacceptable to the State 
people abrogated. To this Mrs. Gandhi gave a categorical reply 
in her letter of Februaiy' 2, 1975 : “I have already explained to 
you that the clock cannot be put back and we have to take note 
of the realities of the situation”. In her statement before the 
Parliament also she reiterated this position : “Sheikh Abdullah 
was very anxious that, to start with, the constitutional relation- 
ship between the state and the centre would be as itwas in 1953 
when he was in power. It was explained to him that the clock 
could not be put back in this manner”. She added: “Mirza Afzal 
Beg pressed for the transfer of provisions relating to Funda- 
mental Rights to the State Constitution, the removal of the 
supervision and control of the Election Commission of India 
over elections to the State Legislature, and the modification of 
Article 356 to require the State government’s concurrence 

before imposing Presidents Rule to the State. It was not found 

possible to agree to any of these proposals”. And Abdullah 
despite his strong views on these issues, accepted the Prime 
Minister’s decision. 

When this episode took place in the history of Kashmir I, 
having undergone two major operations, was lying in sickbed 
at my New Delhi residence. One day, towards the' end of 
February 1975, Abdullah dropped in to convey to me the 
tidings of his “great achievement” as he put it. I was not in 
a good physical condition to talk but in a few hushed words 
I managed to convey to him that I did not approve of the 
Accord. To his offer that I should assist him in shouldering the 
responsibility of nmning the Government, my wife, who was 



The Story of Betrayals 


25 


sitting on my bed, firmly and rather harshly told him that it was 
impossible for me to do so. 

Jubilant at his achievement which was in reafity humiliation 
of Kishmir patriots in general and conventionists in particular, 
Abdullah assisted by Afzal Beg assumed power with the 
support of the majority Congress Legistative Party in Kashmir 
Assembly, in early March, 1975. Another dismal chapter of his 
long unsavoury political life started. In his letter to Mrs, Indira 
Gandhi dated February 11, 1975, he affirmed : “The country is 
passing through a critical period and it is all the more necessary 
for all of us who cherish the ideals of democracy, secularism 
and socialism, to strengthen your hands as the leader of the 
Nation and it is in this spirit that I am offering my whole- 
hearted co-operation”. 

When the Kashmir Accord was published, Abdullah 
repeatedly assured the people in his public utterances that he is 
bound to get it approved by the State people but during the 
two years of his rule he never bad the courage to do so. He 
also claimed that he had agreed to be the head of the govern- 
ment on the condition that the laws passed during the period 
of his being out of office would be reviewed and the ones unac- 
ceptable to the State people would be amended or abrogated as 
necessary. But no move was made in this direction. 

The two years of Abdullah’s rule proved a grim period. The 
Sheikh started with a number of promises to streamline the 
administration, uproot corruption, weed out inefficiency and 
implement plans for economic progress of the State so as to 
end unemployment and make the country prosperous. But in 
practice he succeeded in accentuating the evils that had been 
corroding body politic of the State. He employed his wife. 
Begum Akbar Jan, two sons, Tariq and Farooq, daughter in- 
law, Mrs. Farooq, son-in law, G. M, Shah and many among his 
kith and kin to government or semi-government posts on fat 
salaries. While on the one hand he promoted all those officials 
who had been of any service to him during the years when he 
was out of office even if they were notoriously corrupt, on the 
other, he discharged, degraded or prematurely retired such public 
servants who had been honest but indifferent or unfriendly with 
him. 



26 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


He raised the salaries of the ministers, sanctioned Rs. 1800 
as monthly rent for their houses and Rs. 50,000 as annual rent 
for furniture. He paid from public exchequer lakhs of rupees as 
arrear payments to those of his supporters who had been dis- 
missed for disloyalty to the State in 1953 and pensions to 
favourites who had suffered imprisonment. At the same time, he 
stopped subsidy allowed by the previous governments to put 
the prices of food grains down through which poorer sections 
of the people used to get their rations of essential commodities 
at low rates; he stopped giving of free food and milk to poor 
patients in the State hospitals (provided since Dogra rule) most 
of whom came from countryside and could not afford to make 
arrangement for having food in cities or towns. 

During the inglorious Sheikh regime there was a rise in the 
number of unemployed persons, and highly educated young 
men and women approached him for relief only to be driven 
out from his office with humiliation and abuse While he spent 
enormous sums on pomp and show to glorify his oflicc, he 
became niggard in spending the crores of rupees made available 
to the Slate government by the centre for the economic growth 
of the Kashmiris. The public resentment was on the increase. 

In the end of 1976, to the consternation of the Kashmiris, 
Abdullah got a Land Grants proposal passed by Governor’s 
ordinance which provided for giving of land to outside capita- 
lists. The State Subject Definition adopted as early as 1927 
under the Maharaja’s rule disallowed any outsider from purchas- 
ing land in the State. The Land Grants ordinance would have 
virtually revoked the provisions of the State Subject Definition 
considered inviolable by all classes and communities in Jammu 
and Kashmir . Throughout history the scenic beauties of Kashmir 
have tempted powerful and weathly outsiders to have slices of 
land in the State. Kashmir peasants are the poorest lot in India. 
It was feared that if left unprotected by legislation it would not be 
surprising if outsiders with money bags come and grab the land 
through purchases from the penurious Kashmiris as did jews in 
Palestine from poverty-stricken Arabs thus cither driving out 
the Kashmiris from their ancestral homes or reducing them to 
the position of slaves. A provision attached to the Definition of 
State Subject provided against it and the Land Grants ordinance 



The Story of Betrayals 


27 


was an invasion into it which scared the State people and 
angered intellectuals no less than politicians. But before the 
ordinance could be passed into an Act and put on the statute 
book, the tide turned. 



4 


The Anti- Abdullah Wave 


E lections to the LoL Sabha (People’s House of Indian 
Parliament) vrere ordered to be held in early March, 1977, 
by Prime Minister Indira GandhL The State of I^hmir shares 
six seats in the Lok Sabha. By an agreement these were equally 
divided betv/een the Congress and the National Conference 
(N,C.). One of the two National Conference seats in the Valley 
was allotted to Begum Akbar Jan, wife of Abdullah, which the 
patriots took as a challenge and decided to oppose her. Maulvi 
Ifukhar Hxjssain Ansari, member of the State Legislative Council, 
oSered himself as an independent candidate. Attention was 
focussed on Abdullah’s nepotism. On March I, introducing the 
Begum as a candidate, Abdullah complained in a public state- 
ment that “his opponents had ganged up to cany on a campaign 
of vhiScation against him in the Kashmir Valley”. He said “he 
never wanted the Begum to contest election but my party did 
not agree”. Regarding employment of his two sons he explained 
“one of them had gone abroad to purchase equipment for the 
Sher-i-Kashmir National Medical Institute and all the expenses 
were borne by the concerned firms and not by the institute or the 
government”. Another son of his, Tariq, he said, “had gotten 
a job in the State Tourism Dev'elopment Corporation on his ov/n 
merits^’, “Should my* son starve and not accept a job in the 



The Anti-Abdullah Wave 


29 


state just because he is my son”.^ 

In scores of public meetings and in the local press hundreds of 
young men and women more highly educated than the two sons 
of Abdullah retorted : “What about us ? Should we starve and 
be thrown on the streets ?” 

The other independent candidate for Parliamentary election 
from Baramulla constituency, Syed Ali Shah Gilani, who stood 
against the National Conference candidate, Abdul Ahad Vakil, 
had been imprisoned by Abdullah and was not released until the 
eve of the election. 

As the tempo of the election mounted and Abdullah saw the 
chances of success of the Begum diminishing, his hooligan band, 
the storm troopers of his party, was set in motion. Maulvi 
Iftikhar was beaten by ruffians outside the magistrate’s office 
after he filed his nomination papers. A jeep belonging to him 
was set on fire on the Habba Kadal bridge on March 6 when 
a meeting was in progress in the nearby chowkto be addressed 
by him. Undaunted the Maulvi arrived and delivered a bold 
speech criticising Abdullah and exposing his misdeeds. While 
he spoke there was disturbance in the meeting. He, however, 
continued his speech.^ 

Realizing the ferocity of opposition to bis rule, Abdullah 
in a press conference on March 2, protested that “for the first 
time in 45 years of his public life some one had questioned 
his integrity. It was a matter of shame for the people of 
Kashmir that the man, who had fearlessly led them through 
thick and thin, who had suffered imprisonment for them and 
who had made many other sacrifices, should be attacked 
in such a manner”. He asked : “Will Sheikh Abdullah sell 
away Kashmir as is being alleged by pip-squeaks today ? Noth- 
ing is dearer to my heart than Kashmir. All that I want is 
(referring to Land Grants ordiance) that hoteliers from outside 
should be allowed to build hotels here on leased land to promote 
tourism”. He appealed to the people “to vote for his wife in 
such overwhelming numbers as to make all other candidates 

^Indian Express, March 2, 1977. 

“Indian Express, March 7, 1977. 



30 Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 

opposing her forfeit their deposits”.^ The Times of India corres- 
pondent reported that “resentment against the chief minister, 
Sheikh Abdullah, finds expression in the large attendance at 
meetings addressed by opposition candidates. Thus a young 
Maulvi is posing a serious challenge to the chief minister’s 
wife, Begum Abdullah, in Srinagar”.^ 

Reporting a few days later on March 14, the correspondent 
said : “What was expected to be an easy walkover for the 
Begum has turned into a bitter contest which has divided com- 
munities, split families and led to verbal duels at street corners 
among friends . . .Twice in the past three days, the Maulvi 
alleged that attempts were made on his life while he was addres- 
sing public meetings. He charged his opponents with burning 
a stage where he was scheduled to address a meeting yesterday 
... In the past even when Sheikh Abdullah was out of power, 
nobody in the Valley could raise even a little finger against 
him. But now not only his government but also a member of 
his family is criticised”. 

On March 9, black fiags, hostile slogans and shouts of “go 
back” greeted Mirza Afzal Beg at an election meeting in Sohajna 
Island 16 km. away from Jammu. The police fired five rounds 
of tear gas shells, and made a lathi charge when women of the 
village, who outnumbered men in the audience, protested 
against the arrest on the spot of 15 students while putting ques- 
tions to Beg. Beg who had barely started addressing the people 
abandoned liis speech and ran away from the meeting.^ 

For having bravely faced Abdullah’s threats and refusing to 
withdraw from the contest against the Begum, Maulvi Iftikhar 
Hussain emerged overnight a rallying personality of anti-govern- 
ment and anti-Sheikh elements in the Kashmir Valley. But not 
even the ardent admirers of the Maulvi expected him to win. 
Nevertheless, the Sheikh and his party were so nervous about 
the outcome of the contest that they resorted to hooliganism, 
capture of polling booths, and rigging of the elections in gene- 
ral, By these criminal methods Begum Abdullah won by a 


^Times of India, March 3, 1977. 
"Ibid, 

^Indian Express March 11, 1977. 



The Anti- Abdullah Ware 


31 


majority of votes though Mauivi Iflikhar too secured no fewer 
than nearly eighty thousand votes. 

Violence erupted in the wake of Begum’s victory. The hooli- 
gans killed Ghulam Mohammad Bhat near Amada Kadal on 
March 23 to terrorize the opponents of the National Conference. 
Bhat had refused to accept the version of All India Radio that 
Begum Abdullah had won the election, when coerced to join 
singing paeans of praise to glorify Abdullah. 

In the Kaslunir Legislative Assembly an adjournment motion 
seeking discussion on rigging of elections, hiring of goondas by 
National Conference and creation of fear psychosis among the 
voters, was moved on March 23. Charges of letting loose reign 
of terror against opponents and stealing of votes to ensure victory 
of two National Conference candidates in the Valley were level- 
led against the Sheikh government by eleven members of the 
Assembly including A. G. Lone and A. R. Kabli. Lone remar- 
ked that “Sheikh Abdullah who in the past criticised Bakshi 
Ghulam Mohammad and G. M. Sadiq for rigging the elections 
had tarnished lus own image”. Kabli charged Abdullah with 
making an inflammatory speech to incite people to start haras- 
sing National Conference opponents. Attempts were made even 
to strain relations between Shias and Sunnis. Such tactics to 
divide communities had not been adopted even during the 
Dogra rule”.^ 

The simmering resentment against the misrule of Abdullah 
came to the surface as a consequence of the Lok Sabha polls. 
The Congress Legislative Party in tlic State Assembly which 
was the mainstay of the Government lost faith in its honesty 
and capability. The leader of the party, G. L. Dogra, criticising 
the Sheikh regime declared in a statement on March 25 ; 

“The economic condition of the common man has not imp- 
roved. On the contrary it has deteriorated. Instead of the 
secular forces working in unison to defeat reaction and com- 
munalism, the Government has functioned in a manner wliich 
has led to erosion of values we cherish. Keeping in view the 
democratic norms and also the fact that the Congress Legis- 
lative Party enjoys a clear majority in the Assembly, we would be 

^Times of India, March 25, 1977. 



32 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


failing in our duty if we do not fulfil our responsibility to 
serve the people of the State effectively, and be responsive 
to their aspirations”.^ 

The stage was set for toppling the Sheikh government. 

In the 75-member State Legislative Assembly the Congress 
had a strength of 46 and enjoyed the support of two other 
M.L.A.s. Five members belonging to the Jamati Islami were 
prepared to join hands with Congress to drive out Sheikh 
from power; so were four M.L.A.s belonging to Janata Party 
and six to Abdul Ghani Lone group. Only eight M.L.A.s 
including chief minister Abdullah and his lieutenant Afzal Beg, 
belonged to the National Conference. 

On March 26, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, President of the 


J&K Pradesh Congress, sent a letter to the Governor, L. K. 
Jha, withdrawing support of the Party to Sheikh government 
and demanding to form a new ministry which it had a right to 
do on the basis of its strength in the Assembly. But, at the same 
time, Abdullah wrote to the Governor seeking dissolution of 
the Assembly and demanding fresh polls. Although the Con- 
gress party enjoyed a clear and absolute majority in the Assem- 
bly and the Sheikh had only a small minority of eight members 
at his back. Governor Jha, taking shelter under Section 92 of 
the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution ordered the dissolution 
of the Assembly and imposed Governor’s rule on the State for 
a period of six months. He did not even care to consult the 
leader of the majority party before arriving at the decision which 
was politically and constitutionally wrong and morally unfair. 
Dr. Karan Singh, a former Sadar-i-Riyasat of the State, in an 
eloquent speech in the Lok Sabha called it »a sordid act of 
political betrayal” and “an outrageous performance”.^ It was 
an undue favour shown by the Governor to Abdullah to raise 
his prestige m the State people. 


^ The National Conference issued a statement saying that 
Jha s was a democratic verdict which is in accord with the 
aspirations of the people”.^ But other party leaders held diffe- 


yimes of India, March 30, 1977. 
^Ibid., March 28, 1977. 



The Anti- Abdullah 


33 


rent views. “It is gross violation of democratic norms, “prolcS' 
led V. M. Raju, general secrctar\' of the All India Congress 
Committee. “The Governor did not even care to consult the 
leader of majority party before arriving at a decision’’.^ The 
Slate Congress Legislative Party called Jha’s proclamation as 
“unconstitutional and immoral" and “murder of democracy".- 
Of course. Abdullah welcomed the Govcrnor’.s decision by saying 
that, “it was the only right course that could have been adopted 
under the prevailing circumstances”. He, significantly, added : 
“The interests of the State and the well being of its people arc 
safe in the hands of the Governor”.*' 

Tlic dissolution of the Assembly did not satisfy the National 
Conference leaders. Characteristically, pressing their hooligan 
squads into service they took the battle to the streets. Clashes 
occurred in Srinagar between them and the people. On March 
26, police bur.st tear gas shells and repeatedly used lathis to 
disperse unruly mobs who clashed at a number of places. Tra- 
cing the genesis of the trouble the National News Agency, Sama- 
char, reported : “The incidents came in the wake of demons- 
trations by the supporters of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and 
counter-demonstrations by his opponents . . . Trouble started 
when a group of National Conference workers went round the 
city in the morning asking shop keepers to observe hartal to 
protest against the Congress decision to withdraw its support 
to Sheikh Abdullah’s Government. The members of the Kash- 
mir Motor Drivers Association defied them and refused to 
stop plying of vehicles. Soon afterwards groups of young men 
marched up and down the fashionable Maulana Azad Road 
and Maqbul Shcr\vani Road shouting anti-Abdullah and pro- 
Janta Party slogans. They urged shop keepers to ignore the 
hartal call and keep their establishments open. Following this, 
some shop keepers who had pulled down their shutters reopened 
their establishments, Anti-AbdulJah demonstrators took out 
processions in several parts of the city. They ransacked Natio- 
nal Conference offices at a number of places and pulled down 


^Times of India, March 28, 1977. 
■Ibid. 

^Indian Express, March 30, 1977. 



34 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


the Party’s signboards. A large crowd which marched along the 
Maqbul Sherwani Road pulled down the signboard of Sher-i- 
Kashmir Park and burnt his (Sheikh Abdullah’s) effigy”.^ 
Whether or not the dissolution of the State Legislative 
Assembly was constitutional, it is certain that the people 
heaved a sigh of relief when Abdullah Government was 
ousted from power. “It has ended a black regime which was 
foisted on the country through an Accord”, I said in a state- 
ment on March 30, “arrived at two years ago behind the back 
of the State people to bring an unwanted clique to power 
Stirred by prevailing enthusiasm I added : “In the free politi- 
cal climate generated by recent upsurge in India hopes have 
been raised that for the first time in post-independence era, 
there will be fair elections to the State legislature. A devoutly 
wished opportunity will be afforded to the State people to elect 
their true well-wishers as their representatives and also to 
expose and defeat those notorious elements who repeatedly 
betrayed them, gave solemn pledges at sacred shrines to serve 
the country only to break them, debased public life for per- 
sonal gains, resorted to highhandedness, nepotism, corruption 
and immoral practices for amassing wealth and property while 
miseries were heaped on humble folk”. I appealed to those 
who had ceaselessly toiled but unsuccessfully fought against 
afore-mentioned evils, “to rally round the banner of democra- 
cy and forgetting their differences unite to destroy the common 
foe of new despotism”. 

While Abdullah, ousted from power, was travelling outside 
the State going from door to door of leaders of various politi- 
cal parties and groups to seek support, an anti-Abdullah wave 
was gradually spreading over the Valley. Hostile demonstra- 
tions were held by opponents of National Conference, specially 
youths and students in different towns. On April 7, when 
Abdullah was scheduled to return to Srinagar his followers 
v/anted to give him a grand reception and much money was 
spent on conveyance of peasants from the countryside to a 
public rally at Lai Chowk in Srinagar. But while on his way 
from Jammu he had to face angry youth and students who 


^Indian Express, March 26, 1977. 



The Anti-Abdullah JVave 


35 


shouted slogans against him. At Khanabal dak bunglow a 
public meeting was organized to be addressed by him. Appre- 
hending hostile demonstrations, the millitant National Confe- 
rence workers attacked the college nearby to terrorize students 
in which the police were reported to have assisted them. Every 
room of the college was ransacked, furniture broken, teachers 
and boys beaten np and girls molested. It was a poor and much 
disturbed meeting which Abdullah addressed. The incident 
have had repercussions not only in the town but also beyond it. 
The people in nearby Anantnag were deeply agitated over the 
atrocities perpetrated by National Conference toughs and the 
police. A hartal was called on April 8. About 500 students of 
the college carried out a procession in the town raising anti- 
Abdullah and anti-police slogans. In Srinagar students of the 
Kashmir University and affiliated colleges held similar demons- 
trations under the banner of speedily formed youth and student 
morcha (front). Placards were displayed in processions in the 
city denouncing Abdullah’s authoritarianism and expressing 
solidarity with the aggrieved students of Anantnag ^ 

The agitation was intensified and it spread to othef places 
in the Valley during the next few days. Girls joined the boys 
in anti- Abdullah demonstrations on April 1 1 when they marched 
through the main thoroughfares of Srinagar. They protested 
against the behaviour of the police and National Conference 
workers who had committed excesses on the students and 
teachers of the Government Degree College at Khanabal. Ding- 
dong battles were fought between supporters of Abdullah and 
his opponents. There was widespread resentment against the 
Sheikh and his hoodlums. Police burst tear gas shells at 
many a place to control the situation. Students in Sopore 
joined the fray and brought out a procession in sympathy with 
Khanabal agitators. According to Times of India correspondent 
“as the mob fanned out in various directions in Habba Kadal, 
Khanabal and several other localities, some girls who were with 
the students, were allegedly molested by National Conference 
workers in the Habba Kadal area”.^ 

^Times of India, April 7 & 8, 1977. 

"Ibid., April 12, 1977. - 



36 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


Governor Jha ignored the incidents at first but the deterio- 
rating situation and the mounting intensity of public wrath made 
him apprehensive and he decided to appoint, on April 11, a 
senior judicial officer to conduct an inquiry into the incidents 
which took place at Khanabal on April 7 and 8. Next day, 
Mirza Saifuddin, sessions judge, was named as the officer to 
hold the inquiry and submit a report within two months.^ 
The district magistrate also issued orders under section 144 
Cr. P. Code prohibiting processions and public meetings for one 
month within the limits of Srinagar Municipality. Abdullah 
and his cohorts were saved from falling prey to the public 
wrath. 

Like rats deserting a sinking ship, the few thoughtful mem- 
bers still left in the organization began to leave National Con- 
ference along with the hundreds of their followers. Among 
them were Shamim Ahm ed Shamim, former Member Parlia- 
ment, Ghulam Mohammad Bawan, Administrator Srinagar 
Municipality, Balraj Puri, President Jammu Province National 
Conference, Peerzada Ali Shah, Vice President Kashmir Province 
National Conference, G. Mohiuddin, lawyer and close associate 
of Afzal Beg in his negotiations with G. Parthasarthi as also 
Syed Manzoor Ahmed, Mohammad Amin Bhat, Ashok Bhan, 
youthful lawyers of Srinagar. This was followed by the exit of 
advocates, teachers, doctors, trade union workers and business- 
men in different parts of the Valley. The local press carried 
inmnnerable statements in March and April issued by individuals 
and groups of men denouncing National Conference leadership 
and Abdullah’s dictatorial tendencies and nepotism. The two- 
year National Conference rule came in for harsh criticism for 
its corruption and lawlessness. In the beginning of April a 
stream of intelligentsia announced their dissociation from the 
party. An anti- Abdullah wave was sweeping over the State, 
particularly in the Valley of Kashmir. 


^The report of the Inquiry by the judge never saw the light of the 
day for reasons which only the Kashmir government can reveal. 



5 


Bid for Alliance 


S INCE the independence of India, Abdullah had depended 
for capture of power by his party in the State not on the 
support of the people whom, as we saw, he had alienated from 
himself but on the Central Government which was in the hands 
of the Congress Party. To his cost and dismay he had pain- 
fully realized that he was thrown out of office in August, 1953, 
and for a larger part of his wanderings in wilderness he remain- 
ed in detention or exile because he was at logger heads with the 
ruling party in New Delhi. When, therefore, the Congress 
Party in Kashmir withdrew its support to his government forc- 
ing him to go out of office he looked towards new rising Janata 
Party which had defeated the Congress at the polls in the Parlia- 
mentary elections of March, 1977. Besides, he could not and 
did not remain indifferent to the mounting anti-Abdullah wave 
in the Valley which was assuming threatening proportions. 

In India, Janata Party came into existence as a result of the 
unification of several national and regional political parties to 
overthrow the dictatorship of Mrs. Indira Gandhi who had made 
herself infamous by resorting to heinous deeds during an atro- 
cious rule by imposition of draconian laws under emergency 
provisions of the Constitution. The five constituents of the 
Janata Party were: Jana Sangh, Bharatiya Lok Dal (BLD), 
Congress (O), Socialist Party and Congress for Democracy, a 



38 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


splinter group of those who fully supported Indira Gandhi till 
the last but deserted her on the eve of election thus precipitating 
her downfall. Janata had succeeded in exploiting the Indian 
people’s anger against Indira Gandhi and defeating Congress 
at the polls. In northern India the victory of Janata Party was 
spectacular; it had captured the imagination of the masses who 
adored it. In 1977, Janata wave had replaced Indira wave of 
1972. Abdullah lost no time in extending his hand of alliance 
to Janata Party with the double aim of defending himself against 
the onslaughts of opposition in Kashmir Valley and of recaptur- 
ing lost political power in the State. 

After being thrown out of office on March 26, Abdullah did 
not go to meet the people in the Valley as he should have done 
if he thought they were the real source of power and sovereignty 
as he used to assert, but he proceeded immediately to New 
Delhi to contact Janata leaders and seek the Party’s alliance. 
The Janata leader he met first on April 1, was Atal Behari 
Vajpayee, the distinguished Jan Sangh stalwart and the External 
Affairs Minister of the Union Government. On the same day, 
he had talks with Jagjivan Ram, Chairman of Congress for 
Democracy and Defence Minister in the Janata cabinet. The 
next day, accompanied by Mirza Afzal Beg, he also met the 
Union Ministers Prakash Singh Badal, George Fernandes and 
Mohan Dharia. He appealed to all these Janata leaders to 
accept him as a Janata ally. On April 3, he went to Bombay and 
sought a meeting in Jaslok Hospital with the ailing Jayaprakash 
Narayan who exercised tremendous influence over Janata rank 
and file. The Sheikh’s purpose was to persuade Narayan, an old 
friend and sympathizer, to help him in securing patronage of 
the Janata. 

It appears that the Janata leaders were asking for a quid pro 
quo and making demands which the Sheikh could not fulfil 
without humiliation to himself. No one had forgotten that 
during the whole period of Emergency rule he had paid fulsome 
tributes to Indira Gandhi and the Congress Party when the 
people of India suffered untold miseries and numerous atrocities. 
He was asked to atone for it and give a clean bill of health to 
Janata Party. He was ready and unhesitant to do both. On 
April 2, a staff correspondent of the Times of India reported : 



Bid for Alliance 


39 


“Sheikh Abdullah has changed his stance and started criticising 
the Congress. He is making a desperate bid to reach an under- 
standing with the Janata Party to win a majority of seats in the 
Assembly elections which are likely to be held in June. At a 
recent public meeting, the Sheikh went out of his way to 
describe two former Jan Sangh MLA’s as ‘brothers’ Accord- 
ing to Samachar, the Sheikh, in a public speech said ; “The 
Congress had destroyed all the values and norms of democracy, 
but the electorate had paid it the proper remuneration by bury- 
ing it in northern India”. He accused the Congress for “strangl- 
ing democracy during the 18 months of emergency”. In the 
same speech he expressed the hope that “democracy will 
undoubtedly thrive under the new Janata Party government at 
the centre”.^ 

To appease the Janata leaders and establish his bona fides. 
Sheikh Abdullah instructed his wife. Begum Akbar Jan, and 
Abdul Ahad Vakil, members of the Lok Sabha, to declare their 
voluntary support to the Janata Party. They did so by issuing 
a joint statement in which they aflBrmed that “they will support 
all those programmes and policies of the Government which are 
in accordance with the aims and objectives laid down in the 
Constitution of India”.® 

But Abdullah had lost credibility in the eyes of Janata leaders 
and, therefore, even this surrender did not suffice and proved of 
little avail. After thoroughly exploring the situation in New 
Delhi and Bombay, he returned empty-handed to Srinagar 
where fierce opposition was awaiting him. 

He had, however, not abandoned the hopes of appeasing 
Janata leaders by blackening the face of the Congress. On arrival 
in Srinagar he delivered a diatribe against Indira Gandhi and the 
Congress in a public speech at Lai Chowk. He said : “Mrs. 
Gandhi used to change governments in the states at her own 
sweet will and pleasure. But such is not the case now. The 
people are the real masters and we have left everytliing in the 


^Times of India, April 3, 1977. 
"Ibid., April 1, 1977. 

^Indian Express, April 1, 1977. 



40 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


people's hands”. Referring to theKashmir Congress he fulminat- 
ed : “The Congress in Kashmir has wrought the ruin for the 
people and we shall rid the State of this dirty gutter”.^ 

Apart from being known as unreliable for which he had earn- 
ed notoriety, Abdullah was thwarted in his design to forge 
alliance with Janata by his many opponents who warned national 
leaders against falling in his trap. Telegrams and letters were 
despatched by hundreds of people to Ja 3 'aprakash Narayan, Prime 
Minister Moraiji Desai and Chandra Shekhar, dissuading them 
from accepting the Sheikh’s offer. Shamim Ahmed Shamim, 
G.M.D. Karra, A.G. Goni, Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, A.R. Kabli, 
A.G. Lone and other well know'n public figures met the leaders in 
New Delhi advising them to he wary of rehabilitating the Sheikh 
in State people’s estimation which was certain to damage the 
new'ly acquired reputation of Janata and impede the growth of 
rising democratic forces in the State. 

Shamim delivered a personal letter of mine to Jayaprakash 
Narayan on April 4 in which I reminded liim of the fiasco in 
which State People’s Convention (in holding of which he had 
played a part) ended entirely due to the unpardonable betraj'al 
of the Sheikh. I told Jayaprakash : 

“Reports are circulating in Kashmir as well as in New Delhi 
that Sheikh Sahib is making frantic efforts to seciu’e the 
support of the Janata Party and your blessings to recapture 
power in the State. If there is any truth in this, I w’ould 
request j'ou in the interest of justice, human values and 
democratic ideals not to lend any illegitimate help to him. 
He has already rigged the election to the Lok Sabha and 
w’ants to do the same in the forthcoming assembly election 
for which he seeks and needs the connivance of the Central 
Government and its representatives in the State”. I added : 
“My earnest appeal is let the Sheikh face the people at the 
polls and let the Central Government and its administration 
remain impartial in having free and fair elections to the 
State Legislature. After having defeated totalitarianism in 
India, let not the Janata Party tarnish its name by going out 
of the way in assisting a leader or in any way identifying 

^Indian Express, April 8, 1977- 



Bid for Alliance 


41 


itself with him who has lost the popularity and dignity he 
once possessed”. 

I concluded the letter by saying : 

“I have no doubt in my mind that if for any expediency 
whatsoever Janata Party or you give any indication of 
partiality towards Shcikli and his clique, the State people, 
especially the Muslims, will lose the last remnant of hope in 
establishing democracy in their homeland within the frame- 
work of Indian Constitution. It is not for me to tell you what 
disastrous consequences can follow such a depressed mental 
state of people.” 

Although keen to retain the Kashmir State as integral part 
of the Indian Union, neither the Congress nor the Janata leaders 
cared or have had leisure to study the State’s problem objectively, 
in depth and detail. On the one hand, Abdullah’s expiation for 
past aberrations under Emergency and profuse praise of Janata 
ideals, but, on the other, stiff opposition of Kashmiris to their 
alliance with him, put the Janata leaders on the horns of a 
dilemma. Talks in the Janata circles on the subject revealed that 
they were divided. Some of the high-ups in Janata heirarchy 
were eager to associate the Party with tlie Shcikli considering 
this to be a path of least resistance even though it meant the 
continuance of the denounced Kashmir policy of Nehru and his 
daughter. This group in the Janata wanted to help the Sheikh 
to recapture power in the State or at any rate secure a few seats 
in the Legislative Assembly with the Sheikh by allowing him to 
have the major share. But other Janata leaders stoutly opposed 
any such proposal. Not having sufficient time to study the 
problem most of the leaders were indecisive and could not make 
up their mind either way. They wanted to muddle through and 
thought as the situation developed events would show them 
light. 

The standing committee of the Janata Party met on March 
30 and tentatively agreed to make sifting enquiries in the affairs 
of Jammu and Kashmir on the spot before taking a final deci- 
sion. Two eminent leaders Asoka Mehta and Nanaji Deshmukh, 
were asked to visit the State and study the latest situation there 
consequent on the Governor having taken over the State 



42 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


administration. Later another leader, Bhanu Pratap Singh, was 
also associated with them. The three-member delegation was to 
examine the possibility of setting up a Janata unit in the State 
v/cll in advance of the, then, forthcoming Assembly elections. 



6 


Rising Forces of Democracy 


T he withdrawal of Emergency in India and preparations for 
holding free elections to the Lok Sabha in February had 
generated a Janata wave in the country which had swept 
furiously over the North. It had crossed the borders between 
the Punjab and Kashmir states and taken over Jammu in its 
stride, A Janata unit was set up in February in the city to 
light the Parliamentary election. But when the central election 
committee of the Party chose Sheikh Abdur Rchnian, an erst- 
while Jan Sanghi but now a BLD worker, as its candidate for 
Jammu-Rajouri constituency a fierce controversy ensued. Extre- 
mist Jan Sanghis in the unit opposed it and the steering com- 
mittee put up a rebel, Thakorc Baldev Singh, as its candidate. 
The central Janata Party leaders- asked Thakore to withdraw 
from the field but he refused to do so. The Jammu unit of Janata 
Party was therefore disbanded on March 4, as having proved 
insubordinate. The two Janata candidates in the State — Sheikh 
Abdur Rehman from Jammu and Om Prakash Saraf from 
Udhampur — were asked to set up constituency-level committees 
of their own for election work. Both the candidates were un- 
successful at the polls, Baldev Singh emerging victorious defeat- 
ing Abdur Rehman. 

The people of the Valley who arc overwhelmingly Muslim 
do not look kindly at any outside political party. Though the 



44 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


Congress Party claimed to have won majority of seats in the 
State legislature in 1972 elections, the Kashmiris were not 
emotionally involved in the fight; the elections were like the 
previous ones held after independence, totally rigged. When, 
however, with the dissolution of the Assembly the Valley was 
gripped by anti-Abdullah wave it was mistaken for Janata wave 
because the aims of both were similar; abolition of totalitaria- 
nism, corruption, nepotism as also establishment of democratic 
norms and principles in political life. Janata wave never crossed 
Pir Panjal range dividing Jammu from the Valley but due to the 
proximity of the two waves the one was mistaken for the other 
which caused much misxmderstanding and many miscalculations. 

Swayed by the unprecedented opposition to the National 
Conference and its leaders by the Valley Muslims, a number 
of political workers thought of forming a Janata unit in 
Srinagar; they were led by a veteran of the freedom fight, 
Ghulam Mohiuddin Karra. On April 4, a crowd of 7000 people 
turned up at the historic Lai Chowk to hear Karra when he 
launched the unit. In his speech Karra made a blistering attack 
on the policies of Abdullah saying that he had only succeeded 
in giving the State a “corrupt, ineflBcient and ruthless adminis- 
tration”. Karra said it was largely in response to the wishes 
of the people that he had decided to re-enter into politics and 
start the Janata imit in Kashmir. The staff correspondent of 
the Times of India reported that the meeting was notable be- 
cause for the first time in many years slogans were raised in 
Srinagar praising national leaders like Jayaprakash Narayan, 
Morarji Desai and A.B. Vajpayee. 

The formation of the unit was, however, not authorized by 
the central leadership of the Janata Party. Therefore Karra, 
accompanied by some of his lieutenants, left for New Delhi to 
have consultations with and seek advice from Janata leaders 
regarding furdier steps he proposed to take in this direction. 
In New Delhi he met important leaders of the Party including 
Prime Minister Morarji Desai, Home Minister Charan Singh 
and Asoka Mehta who advised him to await the report of the 
three-member delegation nominated by the Party to go into 
the Kashmir affairs. Karra proceeded to Bombay and met 
Jayaprakash Narayan on April 10, in Jaslok Hospital. In reply 



jR.isiiJg Forces of Democracy 


45 


to a letter from Karra describing his aims, plans and endeavours 
to form a Janata Party unit in the State, Narayan said: 
“Kashmir so far has tended to maintain some kind of separate- 
ness from India and its politics has been more or less not in 
line with the main political developments in the country. Now 
I find you arc active in forming the Janata Party in Jammu 
and Kashmir”. Jayaprakash expressed the hope that “the 
Janata Party would bridge the political gulf between Kashmir 
and the rest of India”. 

Karra met me several limes in New Delhi and persuaded me 
to assist the rising democratic forces in the Valley to rally round 
the Janata Parly which were determined to fight National Con- 
ference fascism and dictatorial tendencies of Abdullah. 1 was 
willing to do so. On April 15, in the afternoon, we left for 
Srinagar together. 

At Srinagar airport a big crowd awaited us and a number of 
Press reporters had come to hear us. I made a brief personal 
statement at the Press conference in which I said that in the past 
thirty years there was not a single election when Kashmir peo- 
ple were afforded opportunity to assert their will and choose 
genuine representatives to voice their feelings, urges and aspira- 
tions in the State legislature. “The recent upheaval in India 
has kindled the hope that the State people may also be able to 
have an impartial, free and fair election this time. To achieve 
this laudable aim, scattered democratic forces want to make a 
common cause and unite. I would be happy to extend a helping 
band to them”. I made it very clear that “I do not belong to 
any political party nor do I intend to contest as a candidate in 
the elections. This is a basic principle of the political philosophy 
in which I believe. Therefore, without personally joining the 
battle of the ballot I shall lend all my energy to see that in the 
forthcoming elections democracy emerges triumphant defeating 
the evil forces of highhandedness, hooliganism and despotism”. 

The principal speaker at the Press conference, G. M. D. 
Karra, gave a report of his talks with the Janata leaders in New 
Delhi and observed that he had found identity of views in 
assessment of the situation in the State. “I am satisfied with 
these talks”, he declared. In a statement referring obviously to 
the National Conference and its leaders, Karra warned that 



46 


. Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


“those elements who had so far provided authoritarian and 
corrupt rule in the State were now trying to stage a come back 
by resorting to violence and vandalism and by raising narrow, 
sectarian and communal issues”. He felt sure that the vigilant 
people of Kashmir would give a befitting rebuff to those ele- 
ments in the elections. He demanded release of all political 
prisoners. Karra entertained little doubts about establishment of 
Janata unit in Kashmir.^ 

After Karra’s return, from New Delhi organizational work 
of the Janata Party started in right earnest and was not confined 
to Srinagar but spread to all parts of the Valley. Congress 
and National Conference workers dissatisfied for one reason or 
another with the working of their own parties, besides thousands 
of politically-conscious men and women belonging to other 
parties began to swarm into the Janata unit formed by Karra. 
Admittedly the common ground for the innumerable entrants 
was their deep hatred of the immoral, anti-people and anti- 
democratic behaviour of National Conference and Congress 
rulers since independence and in particular the despotic 
methods of Abdullah and his colleagues in handling the adminis- 
tration during the period of two years (1975-1977). The nume- 
rous victims of the atrocities were a conspicuous lot among 
the enthusiastic recruits of the Janata forces who made the unit 
popular creating the impression that Janata was on the top in 
body politic of the State. 

Some days earlier, on April 10, Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq, 
chairman of the Awami Action Committee and the religious 
head of a substantial section of the Muslims, had offered his 
services in the cause of democracy. He would, he said, “actively 
campaign to prevent the return of authoritarian rule in Jammu 
and Kashmir ’. He indicated that “he would not raise the issue 
of the right of self-determination on which he had harped 
often in the past”. The immediate issue, he acknowledged, is 
the right to live as human beings. “The larger issues regarding 
India and Pakistan can wait”, he emphatically declared. He 
hoped the Janata Government would ensure that the right of 
free election would be available to Kashmiris. He envisaged 

^Indian Express, April 16, 1977. 



Rising Forces of Democracy 


47 


the emergence of a united front of all forces opposed to 
Abdullah in tire coming poll. He revealed there had been con- 
tacts between himself and leaders of various groups in this 
connection and he was confident that the front would take shape 
very soon.^ 

However, Janata leadership was in search of a personality of 
outstanding ability, high moral character, commanding public 
respect and trust and deserving confidence who could organize 
the State unit and lead it to victory at the hustings, Maulana 
Mohammad Sayed Masoodi an old-timer who had been a shining 
luminary of the freedom struggle from its early days in the thir- 
ties and had done friendly turns after 1947 in keeping Kashmir 
within India, particularly in the turbulant days of disappearance 
of the sacred rcltc from. Durgali Hazaratbal, was the choice. 
He had practically retired from active politics after the fiasco 
in which States People’s Convention ended and ^Yas loath to 
come out of the seclusion in which he lived at Gandcrbal like 
a darvesh. For having remained aloof from sharing power which 
he could easily have donc7 and for having resisted the human 
weaknesses of avarice, greed and amassing wealth and possess- 
ing property, he had earned applause and public confidence. 
Tlrough not charismatic like Abdullah he had risen high in 
moral stature. The Janata leadership, therefore, considered him 
an asset for the Party if he could be prevailed upon to be the 
convener and guide of the Kashmir unit. 

Even before the Asoka Mehta Committee came to Srinagar, 
two central ministers, George Fernandes and A,B. Vajpayee, 
arrived with the delegation of the Non-aligned Countries 
Coordination Bureau. Both of them, admirers of Masoodi, 
motored down to Gandarbal to have preliminary talks with him 
on his assuming the leadership of Kashmir Janata unit. No 
definite conclusions were drawn because the Maulana expressed 
unwillingness to come out of the self-imposed retirement. 

The three-member Mehta Committee visited the State from 
April 15 to 18 to make an assessment of the situation by 
meeting politicians and others of all shades of opinion in 
different parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The first task of the 


^Indian Express, April II, 1977. 



48 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


committee after arrival in Srinagar on the 16th was to drive 
straight from airport to Ganderbal about 30 kms. away to call 
on the Maulana. The Times of India correspondent reported: 
“Apparently the Janata Party leaders felt that if their unit in 
Kashmir is to command respect, it should be headed by a 
leader of Maulana Masoodi’s stature”.^ The committee jointly 
and its members severally met the Maulana to withstand his 
reluctance and prepare him to take up the onerous job; in this 
they had achieved success before they left for New Delhi on 
the 18th. What passed between the delegation and the emaciat- 
ed 74-year scholar-politician is not known but it was believed 
that he had been given strong assurances of fullest cooperation 
and support on behalf of the central party in falGUing the 
responsibility of the grave charge. The delegation met with, and 
consulted over 2000 persons — politicians, journalists, officials, 
doctors, traders, lawyers, teachers, yoimg men, and students — 
representatives of all sections and classes. They had talks with 
the Governor and his adviser. The National Conference 
leaders also called on the delegation; Sheikh Abdullah, besides 
having a tea session with the members of the delegation, had 
an exchange of letters with Asoka Mehta explaining their 
respective positions. The delegation made up their mind that 
Kashmir Janata imit v/as a must. 

In the Press Conference which Asoka Mehta addressed 
before departure, he made meaningful observations of deep 
interest which touched some essential features of the Kashmir 
problem and gave indications that after thirty years Indian 
leaders had begun to see the light Asked W’hether the Janata 
Party would be able to strike roots in Jammu and Kashmir as 
politics in the State was largely personality-dominated, Asoka 
Mehta retorted that “personalities dominated because demo- 
cratic aspirations of the people were seldom given free play. 
The Janata Party was coming up in response to the democratic 
urges of the people and had every reason to succeed”. Mehta 
pointed out that the State people should feel a sense of par- 
ticipation as keen as people in other parts of the country so 
that the ‘tattered garments’ of pessimism, frustration and 


^Times of hdia, April 16, 1977. 



Jlising Forces of Democracy 


49 


cynicism were discarded by them. "A new future is beckoning 
the people of Jammu and Kaslmiir”, he remarked. The com- 
mittee had met even people who had nothing to do with politics 
but had much to say about the hardships suflered by the com- 
mon men and women in the State. “1 don’t think that ever 
before any attempt had been made to get so dose to the 
people”, Mehta admitted. “It appeared, from representations 
made to the committee that the people of the State had not 
been able to breathe freely in the past and they hud been pass- 
ing through a dark tunnel without any sight of light. The 
people had many grievances against administration; little had 
been done to slove their problems”. Concluding Mehta assured : 
“In future no attempt will be made to foist leaders on the 
people from New Delhi. Every attempt would be made to 
draw the people in the national mainstream”.^ 

No wonder that Abdullah and his colleagues saw no compa- 
tability between the new concept of Kashmir politics in the 
eyes of the Indian leaders as spelt out by Mehta and the aims 
of the National Conference drawn from the authoritarian 
philosophy. Therefore they refused to merge the National 
Conference with the Janata Party making the formation of the 
State unit inevitable and unavoidable. Mehta disclosed in the 
news conference on April 18, that his committee had recom- 
mended the formation of 21 -member ad hoc committee for the 
proposed Janata unit in the Stale. 

After submitting the recommendations of his delegation and 
having consultations with central leadership which were punc- 
tuated with diflcrenccs, some basic others trivial, Asoka Mehta 
aimounccd the formation of the ad hoc committee on April 26. 
Pie said : “The national committee of the Janata Party has 
decided to organize a unit of the Janata Parly in Jammu and 
Kashmir. The personnel of the organizing committee will be 
announced tomorrow. The convener of the committee will be 
Maulana AJohammad Sayed Masoodi who has agreed to lead 
the party in the State”. Next day, the list of all members of the 
ad hoc committee was released in New Delhi. It contained, 
besides Masoodi, A.G. Goni, A.G. Lone, Dr. Abdul Majid, 

'Times of India, April 19, 1977. 



50 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


Prem Nath Bazaz, G.N, Untoo, Baldev Singh M.P., Danraj 
Balgotra, Shamim Ahmad Shamim, G.M.D. Karra, Mohammad 
Shaffi, Chaman Lai Gupta, Harish Malhotra, Mauivi Iftikhar 
Hussain, Om Prakash Saraf, Sant Singh Teg, Chaudhri Abdur 
Kehman and Sonam Gyalsan. 

The ad hoc committee was created under peculiar circum- 
stances. Like other political bodies it did not come into 
existence with the consent of like-minded persons known to 
each other for a sufficient period of time.- It was a conglomera- 
tion of individuals deeply influenced by the anti-Abdullah 
political weather, bent upon destroying the authoritarianism of 
National Conference. The common aim of the committee as 
described by frail and ascetic Masoodi at the outset was “to 
win the gratitude of the people of Kashmir if it ensured free 
and fair election in which they had never since 1947 been 
allowed to vote fearlessly in the State”,^ Soon, however, it 
became irritatingly clear that some members cherished diflerent 
objectives and particular designs; they did not have a common 
philosophy nor the same outlook on life. There were, no doubt, 
some balanced, selfless, energetic and experienced men who 
could be an asset to any political party. But there were also 
those with ambitions to fulfil. 

Exchange of hot words over disagreements consumed much 
of the committee’s precious and by no means sufficient time to 
prepare for fight with an unscrupulous opponent. It was 
amazing that from Jammu both Sheikh Abdur Rehman, 
member central Janata Party, and Baldev Singh who as a rebel 
had defeated him at the Parliamentary polls, had been included. 
Their interminable bickerings remained a source of worry to 
the Ad Hoc Committee till the last. It was decided to appoint 
both of them as co-conveners for Jammu region but the device 
failed to bring them closer to each other. 

I was surprised why and how my name appeared in the list 
of the members of the Ad Hoc Committee. I had made it abun- 
dantly known to the people of Kashmir that I did not belong 
to any political party nor had I any intention of doing so. 
Protesting against the inclusion of my name in the Ad Hoc 

^Ttmes of India, April 27, 1977. 



Rising Forces of Democracy 


51 


Committee I wrote to Asoka Mehta but agreed to stay as a 
member till the end of the elections only.^ 

The first meeting of the committee was held on May 1 and 
the second on the 6th and 7th at Ganderbal when more 
members were added to the Ad Hoc Committee: G.R. Kochak, 
M.A. Nahvi from Kaslirair and R.K. Kaushal, Ved Bhasin, 
T,R. Sharma and Shiv Ram Manmar (Harijan) from Jammu. 
Masoodi and Gyalsan were authorized to nominate five and 
two more members from the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh 
regions respectively. 

Discussions among the members in these two meetings 
brought to the surface acute personal and ideological differences 
and disagreements among certain members and most of the 
time which should have been profitably spent was shcerly 
wasted in harangues and accusations and counter-accusations 
not of a creditable nature. When the rest of the time was 
devoted to the building of organization from scratch it was 
obvious that the task was formidable and participation in the 
elections which were proposed to be licld next month down- 
right foolhardiness if success was the aim. It was not easy to 
establish the new party from grassroots within tlic unbelievable 
short time of one month when not even the three regional com- 
mittees were in existence. The Ad Hoc Committee had no cadre 
of workers on whom to depend for building the organization 
or fighting the elections. Most of the members of the Ad Hoc 
Committee were unacquainted with each other. Was it then 
sensible to have anything to do with assembly election, I 
enquired. Would it not be desirable and advisable to wait and 
take a decision when the preliminary conditions for doing so 
had been fulfilled? 

After calm deliberations the committee arrived at the con- 
clusion that under the circumstances the question of participa- 
tion in the elections mostly depended on the assistance that the 
Central Janata Party would give and the promptness with 
which it would be able to do so. It was obvious that at least 
two of the parties in the field — the Congress and the National 
Conference — were decades old and, besides possessing required 


^Sce Appendix A. 



52 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


experience, enjoyed vast resources in finance, men and material 
to allow the Janata Party, barely born a few days ago, to 
successfully contest them at the hustings. The task could be 
taken in hand only if the Central Janata Party realized its 
hugeness and was determined to help unstintedly and vigorously, 
and before it was too late. 

No time was, therefore, lost in sending G.M.D, Karra to 
New Delhi to apprise the leadership of the weaknesses of the 
Ad Hoc Committee and seek the Central Party’s maximum 
support to face the ordeal. He met Prime Minister Morarji 
Desai, Home Minister Charan Singh, Asoka Mehta, Nanaji 
Deshmukh and several others and presented them the real 
picture of State politics and gave a full report of the feelings 
of the Ad Hoc Committee. He was given a patient hearing 
and assured of all assistance which the committee needed to 
fight the election. Happy at the outcome of the talks, Karra 
said in New Dellii that “while the party was proving to be 
extremely popular in all the regions of the State and was 
attracting people from various walks of life, notably intellec- 
tuals and youth, the State leaders having formed a nucleus 
were keen to establish district, block and halqa committees to 
complete the organizational structure to meet the historic task 
of defeating auti-democratic forces at the polls”. Karra did 
not exaggerate the potentiality of the Janata Unit. With the, 
announcement of its formation practically all the older political 
bodies began to have shakings of more or less intensity; the 
Congress and National Conference felt greater tremors; four 
Kashmir youth groups — Kashmir Youth Action Committee, 
Students’ Welfare Union, Kashmir Youth Organization 
and the Student Voters Forum — decided to join Janata 
Unit.^ A well known group of intellectuals led by Mirza 
Ghulam Hassan Beg Arif, president of the Kashmir Council 
for Research, Ghulam Nabi Khayal, winner of the Sahitya 
Academy Award, Bansi Parimoo, winner of the Lalit Kala 
Akadami Award, Sayeed Tahir Hamadani, editor of Sadai 
Kashmir and S.S. Girgin, a historian from Ladakh, too, an- 
nounced, in a Press conference that they supported Janata aims 


^Indian Express, April 28, 1977. 



Risiiif* Forces of Democracy 


53 


and ideals. Tijc staff correspondent of the Times of Jtulia 
reported ; “Numerically they do not matter much but keeping 
in view the fact that c:ich commands respect in intellectual 
circles, they represent an imprc.ssivc gain for tlic Jrsnata 
Party”.^ 

On May 6. Mirwaiz Maulana Mohammad Farooq, Cliairman 
of the Kashmir Awami Action Committee, announced in 
Srinagar tliai he and his party \vould c.xtcnd full support to the 
Janata Party, and since the spokesman of the Ad Hoc Com- 
mittee, “had sought my cooperation in strengthening the roots 
of democracy in Jammu and Kashmir, 1 have assured liim (hat 
my party will extend the required cooperation in this regard". 
He pledged that “he would continue to struggle relentlessly 
against authoritarianism in the State" 

On May 11, the followers of the late Bakshi Ghulam 
Mohammad, a former prime minister of the State, known as 
Bakshi group numbering a few thousand joined the Janata. 
Then came hordes of ex-army men who desired “to give a 
fillip to the movement for freedom from hoodlum rule which 
had plagued the State .since 1947". 

But the major support for the Janata unit eamc from the 
rank and file of both the Congress and National Conference 
organisations. When on April 28, Maulana M.'isoodi declared 
in a Press interview that Janata v/ill keep its doors open to all 
including Sheikh Abdullah, people from all walks of life began 
to pour into the new body through its portals. Day in and day 
out, multitudes thronged its improvised office to join Janata 
hoping thereby to destroy the citcdal of new despotism which 
had replaced Dogra Maharaja's autocracy in a more vicious 
form and for establishment of democratic norms and traditions 
in State politics. Working-class men, like motor drivers, boat- 
men, artisans and factory labourers vied with teachers, lawyers, 
doctors, writers and students to support the rising forces of 
democracy. When the office of Janata unit was opened in the 
.spacious house called Forest Lodge, a government building 
secured on usual rent, a stream of eager enthusiastic and 

'Times of India, May 11, 1977. 

‘Indian Express, May 7, 1977. 



54 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


earnest men crowded its rooms for talks with leaders on the 
growing revolutionary tide in the Valley. 

Some desertions from the Congress and the National Con- 
ference were notable. Such, for instance, was the resignation 
of A.G. Goni, Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly, and 
many other members of both the houses of State Legislature 
too many to be mentioned by their names. Dr. Jagat Mohini 
of the Congress Women’s Wing followed in their footsteps. 
Then came the turn of PeerzadaAli Shah, Vice President, 
Kashmir Province National Conference. The President of the 
Jammu Province National Conference, Balraj Puri, who had 
also been a member of the steering committee of the State 
People’s Convention and close to Abdullah, came next. 
G.M. Bawan, Admim'strator, Srinagar Munidpality, a liberal 
in outlook and a distinguished intellectual of the Kashmir 
Cultural Society, severed his relations with the National Con- 
ference. All of them along with their hundreds of active 
colleagues, relinquished their respective parties and were sooner 
or later absorbed by the Janata. 



7 


Janata Voices Aspirations 
of State People 


I T needs to be stressed that the Kashmiris, particularly the 
Muslim population of the Valley and the adjoining areas, 
were not attracted by the Janata Parly or the ideals and past 
record of even one of the fiv'c constituent units of the Party. 
No one among the leaders of the units had for long years after 
independence, shown any sympathy with the State people when 
the Central Congress Government, under Jawaharlal Nehru 
and Indira Gandhi, allowed the local tyrants to repress and 
oppress the Kashmiris, No voice of protest was raised when 
thousands in the Valley languished behind prison bars for mere 
expression of independent views or when hundreds were mown 
down by police firing. If anything, the Janata politicians were 
critical of the Congress Government for being too liberal 
towards Kashmiris especially those who displayed any tendency 
to rebel against authoritarian rule and suppression of civil 
liberties and fundamental rights; the supporters of the right of 
self-determination and those w'ho demanded holding of plebis- 
cite to decide accession issue were the main target of attack by 
Janata leaders. The Jan Sangh, which is the main-stay and 
bulwork of Janata in northern India, was disliked by the 
Kashmiris for its anti-Muslim attitude and communal outlook 



Jarioto Voices Aspirations of State People 


57 


fathers of Indian democracy, as \\c saw. had, therefore, after a 
50 od deal of deliberation, jciinrantccd, while framing t!)c Con- 
stitution, the full autonomy of the .State by adopting Article 370 
to the satisfaction of the Kashmiris. It was a feat of farsighted 
statc.smanship highly appreciated by libera! politicians. It \va,s 
no doubt a temporary provision for the transition period during 
which misgivings, apprehensions and fears caused by post- 
partition communal halocausts were expected to be allayed. 

Unforiunaicly. instead of iitili/ing the Article 370 to fulfil 
the purpose for which it was inserted in the Constitution, self- 
seeking Muslim leaders of the State taking ill advantage of the 
constitutional provision, struck deals with the Congress 
Govcrmncni at the centre for fuirdmcnl of pcr.sonal ambitions 
to the detriment of Kashmir democracy. 

“Although a part of India,” lamented the Jammu and 
Kashmir Janata Party manifesto. “Kashmir was deprived from 
reaping the harvest of freedom. Congress rulers never took 
the Stale people into their confidence and imposed tyrants and 
despots on them. They deliberately nourished public men 
who v/erc ready to repress and oppress Kashmiris. The local 
stooges who were foisted from above incessantly tried to keep 
their Congress masters in New Delhi in good luimour. They 
were never responsible to the people of the State. Jt resulted in 
a total denial of democratic rights of the latter. The hired 
agents were, however, allowed to amass wealth and vast pro- 
perties by loot, misappropriation, fraud and cheating. They 
were also afforded fullest opportunity to rule by terror and 
suppression of the voice of dissent”. 

The manifesto added ; 

“The Stale v/as thus transformed into a vast prison-house 
where anybody could be put behind the bars and kept in deten- 
tion for years without supplying him grounds for it. Any stout- 
hearted freedom fighter who faced the troubles heroically would 
be involved in fabricated eases by the mercenary rulers and 
misunderstandings would be created between him and the 
Central Government”. 

Elaborating the modus operandi of the local tyrants the 
manifesto said : 

“It became a fashion with the rulers to wax eloquent about 



58 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


the secular traditions and temperament of Kashmiris but, in the 
same breath, they would dub every self respecting Muslim as 
Pakistani agent and every Hindu patriot as RSS enthusiast. 
The Kashmiri nabobs resorted to blackmailing the central 
leaders to achieve their personal ends and would raise, at times, 
the slogans of plebiscite and right of self-determination if the 
central leadership slightly tried to resist the fulfilment of their 
extravagant ambitions. The unprincipled self-seekers had 
only one purpose in mind : to amass wealth, whether coming 
from indigenous sources or from foreign countries. When events 
forced them to be friendly with India, they brazenfacedly turned 
somersaults and signed pacts neutralising the effect of their 
own slogans but felt no qualms of conscience in doing so”. 

The manifesto bemoaned : 

“The people of the State have never been given an opportu- 
nity to exercise franchise freely and fearlessly. Right from the 
day of independence to March 1977, the story of so-called clcc- 
tions in the State is a slanderous record. It appears incredible 
but is a fact that the last time when the State people exercised 
their votes in any measure of freedom was under the auto- 
cratic rule of the Maharaja. The Parliamentary elections in 
last March amply demonstrated the hollowTiess of the claims 
of those leaders who were never tired of crj'ing for the right of 
self-determination of State people”. 

Alluding to the rise of liberating forces in India, the mani- 
festo said: 

“The great Janata revolution provided a ray of hope for 
our people. They have begun to believe that they also can 
emerge from the long dark night of despotism and misrule 
imposed on them for the last three decades”. 

The manifesto concluded : 

“The Party has the privilege of being led by eminent stal- 
warts of the freedom struggle. Under Maulana Masoodi’s 
leadership the Party pledges to establish democracy in the 
State, usher in an era of plenty and prosperity and rid this 
benighted land of wickedness and atrocities of mercenaries who 
have been exposed by their own heinous crimes and atrocious 
deeds”. 

In a 46-item plan the Kashmir Janata Party enumerated its 



Jaymta Voices Aspirotious of Stale People 


59 


political, economic, social and cultural programme which it 
pledged to implement if brought to power in a free and fair 
election. The manifc.sto reflected the new thinking and the new 
approach to life totally dinferent from that which had swayed 
politics since 1947. 

Regrettable as it was, the Union Government encouraged 
Abdullah in holding an c.xaggcratcd opinion of his own 
importance; his ego was inflated. He posed to be the supreme 
leader of the State and, on that ground, claimed monopoly of 
political power. Over tlic yeans there had grown what came to 
be called Abdullah-stylc in Stale politics. He was a communalist, 
secularist, nationalist and socialist at the same lime. To the 
Kashmiri Muslims he preached rank communalism from pul- 
pits of mosques and shrines as a religious leader devoted to 
the cause of Islam. Outside the Valley he was at pains to 
present himself as an Indian nationalist, a secularist, an admirer 
of Jawaluwlal Nehru and a devotee of Mahatama Gandhi. In 
essence he was neither one nor the other but a confused man 
intcrc.stcd only in capture of power. His political ideology w'as 
trimmed as suited to the occasion from time to time. 

A salient feature of Abdullah’s game was to lend unequivo- 
cal and unsw'crv'ing support to the State's accession to India as 
long as the Union Government was willing to hand over the 
State administration to him even against the manifest will of the 
Kashmiris, When, and if, the Union Government, in response 
to the growing anti-AbduIIah sentiment W’illiin the State, 
e,xprcssed reluctance to abide by the wishes of the Sheikh, he 
readily and unabashedly turned a somcr.sault and did not hesi- 
tate to arouse base passions and religious hatred of fanatic 
elements among the Muslims to blackmail the Central Goverm 
ment. Demand for plebiscite, even after having signed the 
Indian Constitution and accepted. Anally and irrevocably, the 
State’s accession to India carried no greater signiAcance than a 
part of this mischievous game. Amazingly, the bluff and bluster 
proved eminently successful to hoodwink the Indian public for 
many years; but the great change which took place with the fall 
of the Congress rule and the epoch-making success of Janata 
Party in the Parliamentary elections in March 1977, tremendously 



8 


False Issues Raised 


T he rising wave of opposition unnerved the leaders of the 
National Conference; it was a novel, depressing and per- 
turbing experience for them to see hordes of men and women 
joining Janata and making hostile demonstrations against the 
party which had commanded popularity during the entire period 
of freedom struggle and enjoyed power after achievement of 
independence; the political weather had undergone a terrific 
change. 

Since it came into existence. National Conference had been 
patronized by the Congress. When independence was achieved 
in 1947, and the Congress became the ruling party in India; it 
arbitrarily recognized the National Conference as the genuine 
representative body of the State people and Abdullah as their 
supreme leader. Any opposition to or dissent from this view was 
suppressed with heavy hand. It was an accepted and unchal- 
lengeable policy that National Conference alone had the right 
to rule the State; all other political bodies were enemies of 
democracy. The evils such a faulty approach produced were 
deliberately overlooked or minimized. In national and inter- 
national forums Abdullah was given prominence far greater than 
he deserved or facts warranted. Accustomed to pampering by 
Nehru for years and Indira since 1975, the Sheikh had taken 
it for granted that Janata, the successor ruling party at New 



False Issues Raised 


63 


Delhi, too would continue the same or similar policy towards 
Kashmir. But he failed to convince Janata leadership that it 
would be fair to State people. Most of the Janata high-ups did 
not trust him though some still entertained lingering doubts 
whether handling of the Kashmir issue without Abdullah’s 
assistance could be successful. However, when all was said and 
done on both sides, Janata leaders told Abdullah that he must 
come down to earth from dizzy heights where from he talked, 
to expect the ruling party’s patronage. He was advised to dis- 
band the National Conference and take steps to join the 
mainstream of political life. This, as we know, would have upset 
Sheikh’s apple cart and foiled his game of keeping aloof the 
State as his private preserve and left no opportunity for him to 
use by turns the National Conference as pro- and anti-India 
force as suited his book. 

Relying on his old tactics utilized to deal with the Congress, 
the Sheikh brought pressure to bear on Janata leadership through 
those who still believed in his sincerity and honesty, to accept 
his offer of alliance and on May 7 proceeded towards New 
Delhi to have a final talk with the Janata leaders. But his 
journey was cut short at Jammu when on May 8, Nanaji 
Deshmukh, an influential figure in the Janata party, made a firm 
declaration that any alliance between Janata Party and National 
Conference was not possible. 

Loss of support from the central ruling party was decidedly a 
great blow to the National Conference which set its leaders 
thinking about their participation in the Assembly elections. 
Till now it had been a walkover for the favourite party — be it 
National Conference or Congress — everytime elections were 
held in the State; all irregularities, highliandedness and anti- 
people activities were condoned, however resentful the Kashmiris 
might have felt. It was realized by tlie Sheikh and his colleagues 
that this time it would be different. At the most. National Con- 
ference could expect equal treatment with other parties in the 
State. But most of the Sheikh’s supporters apprehended that 
Central Janata Government would show same partiality towards 
Kashmir Janata Unit as the Conference used to receive from 
the Congress in the past. Had Abdullah and his party enjoyed 
the support of the Kashmiris, the holding of free and fair 



64 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


elections should have been welcomed and not looked upon as 
an impending catastrophe. But the fast changing political 
climate in the State had brought home to them that they could 
entertain little hope of success at the polls. 

Although both the National Conference candidates. Begum 
Akbar Jan, and Abdul Ahad Vakil had won in the Parliamen- 
tary elections of March on the National Conference tickets 
against opposition candidates in the Valley yet it was galling to 
the Sheikh that an unknown Maulvi Iftikhar Hussain who 
opposed the Begum polled no fewer than 80,000 votes; the 
contest was a blade of grass which showed the way the wind 
blew. If thousands of voters were bold enough to face him at 
the hustings when he headed the State administration what 
might not happen after he w'as ousted from power. It posed a 
question of to be or not to be which had to be answered. 

Putting a bold face on the situation and in his characteristi- 
cally arrogant manner Abdullah had on March 2 in a hard- 
hitting speech admonished an audience in Srinagar : 

“For the first time in my 45 years of public life someone has 
questioned my integrity. It is a matter of shame for the people 
of Kashmir that the man who had fearlessly led them through 
thick and thin, who had suffered imprisonment for them and 
who had made many other sacrifices should be attacked”.^ 

In another speech he asked the Kashmiris how did they allow 
opposition candidates to stand for election against those chosen 
by him. 

The Sheikh had in these words administered a warning to all 
those politicians who were thinking of participation in the battle 
of the ballot against the National Conference. This was in mid- 
April when anti-Abdullah wave had yet to gather momentum. 
As the enthusiasm for change and support for democracy and 
opposition to totalitarianism assumed greater proportions dismay 
spread in the National Conference ranks. For once by the end 
of April Abdullah was encountering real and formidable 
opposition; his leadership was at stake. Not having known, 
much less practiced, the art of persuasion, argument and 
discussion with co-workers or friendly contacts with the people 

^Times India, March 3, 1977. 



False Issues Raised 


65 


at large, he was at his wit’s end what to do and what steps to 
take to mollify opposition or enlist an increasing number of 
supporters and sympathizers to win at the polls. 

The greater the number of those including well-known per- 
sonalities who left the National Conference fold to join Janata 
the intenser the gloom which enveloped Mujahid Manzil, the 
head quarters of the party. 

The approhension that like Congress Government in the past 
which freely allowed rigging of elections by their local hench- 
men, the Janata ruling party will also manipulate the show in 
favour of the ncwly-creatcd State Janata unit, particularly 
worried Abdullah and made Jiis colleagues pessimistic. He could 
not believe that the Janata Party would be fair and remain neutral. 
At the end, he would think diflcrcntly but he may not be 
bkuned, if, in May, he harboured unfounded and imaginary fears 
about it because he had not known the Centnd Government 
guided by any liigh political morality for over thirty years. 

In Srinagar, leaders of National Conference held innumerable 
meetings among thcmsclvc.s at every level in order to frame a 
policy, take a decision and chalk out a programme for the 
Assembly elections. Sheikh Abdullah met hundreds of his loyal 
colleagues and workers from all p.arts of the State to know their 
views. It was believed on all hands that the popularity of the 
National Conference had waned and it was not possible to 
capture majority of scats in the Assembly. Was it then worth- 
while to contest and let the party claim be exposed as hollow ? 
Since formidable odds were oppo.scd to the party even in the 
Valley and the central ruling party was unfriendly, the question 
of boycotting the polls was seriously considered. But a section 
of devoted w'orkers were of the opinion that in any ease the 
party can secure between 30 and 35 scats which might subsc- 
qcntly swell to majority of 39 by taking advantage of defections 
in other groups. It was worth trying. Being a crucial election in 
the political history of the State the National Conference could 
not afford to boycott it. Whatever thcdifiiculties to face the 
party could not overlook or even underestimate its importance. 
The party had to take the historic decision: to be or not to be, 
concluded the caucus. “Tliough we may not rule out other 
means for adoption which developing circumstances force on us> 



66 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


for the present it is inadvisable to leave the field at this early 
stage,” M.A. Beg tvas reported to have clenched the issue with 
which Sheikh Abdullah eventually agreed. 

It was a trying and testing time for the National Conference 
leaders. For the first time in the history of the party they were 
encountering tough opposition and their usual tactics of dealing 
with the situation had proved of no avail. It was not difficult 
for them to foresee that, left to themselves, the Kashmiris 
would, profiting by their past experience and guided by trium- 
phant antitotalitarian forces in India, defeat the National Con- 
ference at the polls. There was, however, one possibility which 
might still save the situation: raising of false communal and 
religious issues which would excite the Muslims against Janata 
and stem the rising tide of Kashmir democracy. Abdullah had 
done this before and succeeded in securing his aim of regaining 
lost popularity and retaining or recapturing power. He could do 
so again on a far bigger scale, at any rate he could make 
another attempt and put the weapon to trial. 

No doubt it would be a risky move and apt to demolish his 
credibility among the Indians and damage his secularist image 
which both he had been careful to preserve. It would also 
deprive him of non-Muslim votes in Jammu and Kashmir at 
the hustings. But his advisers believed that it was not a prohibi- 
tive price he would be called upon to pay if the party had to 
take a chance to capture power; secondly, the Sheikh was 
conscious that the Indians, despite their professions to the 
contrary, held him in esteem not for cherishing noble ideals 
but because he had a name among the State Muslims which 
had served India to offset the effects of anti-India tirades of 
Pakistan If by raising false issues and hoodwinking the 
Kashmiris he could succeed in realizing the immediate objective, 
the future would take care of itself, Abdullah argued. 

Having lost all hope of alliance with Janata Party and con- 
vinced that Kashmir Janata unit had not only come to stay but 
was also drawing crowds of Kashmiris into its fold, Abdullah 
started firing salvos on the opposition. Addressing a public 
meeting on May 1 5 at Anantnag he warned the audience that 
the Janata Party wants to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian 
Constitution and reduce Kashmir to the level of other states in 



Folse Issues liaised 


67 


the coimtrj'. Dwelling at length on the circumstances in which 
the Stale acceded to India in 1947, he said that the decision was 
taken in view of the interests of the non-Muslim population. 
“After accession to India, Muslims were full of apprehension 
that they would lose their identity in the national mainstream. 
It was against this background that assurances were sought and 
received from India under Article 370 that the internal autonomy 
of the State would be maintained at all costs’’.^ 

Apart from the false statement that the accession was accept- 
ed by National Conference party to favour non-Muslims, as 
explained earlier, no declaration from any responsible Janata 
leader of All-India stature or any member of the State Janata 
unit had been made to the cficct that the Article 370 would be 
or should be repealed. Indeed, on6 after the other Prime Minister 
Morarji Desai, External Affairs Minister A.B, Vajpayee, Home 
Minister Charan Singh and Asoka Mehta had already emphati- 
cally and publicly stated that there was no intention or move 
to unilaterally alter, amend or abrogate Article 370 until the 
State people themselves wanted to do so as was provided in the 
Constitution itself. Prime Minister Desai had reiterated publicly: 
“The special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 
would be maintained as long as the people of the State wanted 
it”. The Ad Hoc Committee of Kashmir Janata Party had 
welcomed the statements of the central leaders and endorsed 
them. A Janata member in the Lok Sabha, Subramaniam 
Swamy, had no doubt demanded that the Article be revoked but 
he had no responsible position in the Government. Mischievously 
alluding, time and again, to Swamy’s demand as also to the 
ambiguous wording of the letter from Jayaprakash Narayaii to 
Karra, Sheikh Abdullah went on making the charge till the last 
day of the elections that the Janata Party was determined to 
remove Article 370 from the Constitution. 

Ironically, Sheikh Abdullah had in his negotiations with the 
Central Congress Government beginning with an agreement in 
1952 and ending with the Kashmir Accord in 1975, rendered 
the Article 370 ineffective in some respects while most of the 
Kashmir leaders now in the Janata Party had been registering 


^Times of India May 17, 1977. 



68 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 

protests against whittling down the effectiveness of the Article. 
It was, therefore, audacious that the man who had bartered the 
rights of State people and surrendered parts of Kashmir 
autonomy just to obtain crumbs of power should raise the cry 
that Janata Party was the culprit bent upon sellout of the State. 

Abdullah, however, knew which issue deeply stirred the 
Kashmiris and how to exploit it to his advantage. In the past, 
whenever he had become unpopular he had aroused misgivings 
and fears in the minds of the Muslims and presented himself as 
the one who could protect them against onslaughts from out- 
side. Once again he was using the same weapon. He did not 
only pledged himself and his party to preserve the Article 370 
but even went further to warn the Union Government, on May 
23, albeit in a garbled way, that if he fails to achieve his objec- 
tive the Kashmiris would not hesitate to secede from the Indian 
Union. The correspondent of Hindustan Times reported that 
“Sheikh Abdullah has threatened to reconsider accession in 
case a place of honour and dignity is denied to the State within 
the Indian Union”. The correspondent said that the statement 
provoked little reaction locally and it was generally dismissed 
as an election gimmick by political circles^. Nevertheless, it did 
not go unnoticed. 

Apprehending that his remarks and observations might be 
considered imlawful, objectionable and anti-national, Abdullah 
addressed a long letter, on May 30, to Chandra Shekhar, 
President, Janata Party, explaining away his fulminations. 
The Sheikh stated that though immediately after assiuning 
office. External Affairs Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had stated 
that Article 370 would not be altered without consulting the 
people of Kashmir, Mr. Subramaniam Swamy, M.P. had asked 
for its abrogation. The Sheikh also pointed out that the contents 
of the letter written by Jayaprakash Narayan to Mr. Gulam 
Mohiuddin Karra in which he had stated that Kashmir had 
tended to maintain some kind of separation from main political 
developments in the country and had hoped that newly formed 
Janata Party would close this political gulf, had caused mis- 
givings. In an exchange of letters Chandra Shekhar assured 


^Hindustan Times, June 1, 1977. 



False Issues Raised 


69 


Abdullah that there was no intention to take away the auto- 
nomy granted to the State. The Sheikh expressed his happiness 
over the clarification given by Chandra Shekhar on the status 
of Kashmir^. 

This should have ended the controversy over the Article 370 
but as subsequent developments proved the letter was meant 
only to put off the Indian Government from taking any legal 
measures against the objectionable remarks of Abdullah. When 
he was convinced that the dreaded proceedings had been warded 
off, he revived his attack on the Kashmir Janata unit for its 
imaginary plan to get the Article abrogated. Indeed, Sheikh’s 
lieutenant Afzal Beg raised the sIog;m that the election 
should be taken as plebiscite thus vaguely reminding the 
Kashmiris that the accession issue was yet to be decided. The 
more the emphasis was laid by the National Conference leaders 
on the retention of Article 370 and the significance of election 
as a plebiscite the more intense became the anti-India passion 
of the Kashmir Muslims and their hatred of the Janata Party. 
Of course, both Sheikh and Beg knew that the two issues were 
false and there neither was any occasion for amending, much 
less abrogating. Article 370 nor for holding of a plebiscite to 
reopen the question of accession. But they knew that the desire 
of joining Pakistan lingered on in many hearts or at any rate 
it was dormant in Muslim mind; therefore, raising of the is-sue 
however indirectly, could be exploited effectively against all 
those patriotic, honest, sincere and democratic elements who 
wanted Kashmir to have its rightful place in the Indian Union. 
Kashmir Janata Party was in a disadvantageous position in this 
respect because it could not compete on the communal and 
religious plane and could therefore be easily put in a dismal 
light by the National Conference. 

Arousing religious passions and communal prejudices did not 
rest with the raising of two slogans. The National Conference 
leadership sought a more potent weapon to fight the Janata 
opposition. It was well known that Sheikh Abdullah had signed 
the Indian Constitution in 1950 in which Jammu and Kashmir 
State was accepted as a constituent part of the Indian Union. 


^Hindustan Times, June 1, 1977. 



70 


Democracy through Iniimidaiion and Terror 


He had boastfully acknowledged being one of the authors of the 
Constitution. It was, therefore, difficult to carry conviction with 
the people that Janata Party was the villian to thrust accession 
on the State or even to smother its autonomy. The people knew 
that the boot was on the other leg. So there was need to take a 
more drastic step to defeat the Janata; it would be no other than 
direct exploitation of religious sentiments of the Muslims in the 
State. 

Abandoning the pose of a secularist and an admirer of the 
Janata Party and its revolutionary role in having uprooted Con- 
gress dictatorship, Abdullah imabashedly turned another somer- 
sault and started fiercely attacking the Janata leadership for its 
rabid communalism. He accused Janata of being, in essence, 
the anti-Muslim Jan Sangh. At the Anantnag meeting referred 
to earlier he went to the extent of saying that the hands of Jan 
Sangh leaders were still drenched with Muslim blood. So it 
v/ould be suicidal for the State Muslims to vote Janata to power. 
He admonished, pleaded, warned and rebuked the Muslims for 
their newly acquired affection for Jan Sangh which appeared in 
the grab of Janata. 

Aware of the backwardness, ignorance and easily excitable 
religious emotion of the Muslims, Abdullah conveniently forgot 
how much praise he had lavished over Janata Party and its 
leaders for a whole month till May 8, his entreaties and plead- 
ings at New Delhi and Bombay that he be accepted as one of 
them and his National Conference as an ally and the offer of 
Begum Akbar Jan and Abdul Ahad Vab’l to support Janata 
Party in Lok Sabha. Now the Janata was presented in private 
talks and public speeches as a body of blood-thirsty politicians 
aiming at destruction of the Muslims and therefore in no way 
entitled to the vote of the Kashmiris. The argument proved a 
telling one and v/as used increasingly, extensively and forcefully. 

Small and big leaders of the National Conference fanned out 
in the Valley and adjoining areas of the Jammu region such as 
Doda and Rajouri districts where Muslims are in majority, 
going from door to door with the Koran in hand asking every 
Muslim to swear by the holy book that he or she will cast vote 
for the God-fearing National Conference and not for the Janata 
infidel. 



9 


Hooliganism and Feigned Illness 


T he election contest immediately assumed the shape of a 
Hindu-Muslim dispute. Unmindful of the pernicious conse- 
quences, Abdullah intensified the religious propaganda because 
he could not fail to see that the tide had begun to turn and the 
hypnotized and oath-bound Muslims were ready to forgive his 
sins of omission and commission. Hindus and Sikhs who had 
sincerely believed for years that the Sheikh was a genuine 
secularist were disappointed at his chameleon-like change and 
deserted the National Conference. Kashmiri Pandits in the 
Valley did so tacitly and silently but in Jammu region the Dogras 
left with a bang. Balraj Puri, President of the Jammu Provincial 
National Conference, raised banner of revolt and Sheikli had 
to dismiss him along with the entire body of active members of 
the Conference supporting Puri. In fact, the entire organization 
in the region became defiant and it was only in the Muslim 
belt of Doda and Rajouri where religious sentiment had been 
aroused to highest pitch that some remnants of the party 
survived. 

Undeterred, however, Abdullah incessantly carried the 
religio-political war in other spheres and directions. Among his 
opponents were Shias and followers of Mirwaiz Mohammad 
Farooq, nicknamed Bakaras. In the Parliamentary election 
these people along with the Pandits in the Valley opposed the 



72 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


National Conference candidates. The electioneering campaign 
•conducted by Abdullah was thus not limited by Hindu-Muslim 
•dimensions but assumed new Sunni-Shia and Sher-Bakara pro- 
portions too. 

Within a few days, in the beginning of June, Sunni Muslims 
of the Valle}' and Doda and Poonch districts were sufficiently 
agitated and made to believe that if Janata won the elections 
Islam would be in danger for its enemies would capture the 
citidels of political power. It must be acknowledged that 
Abdullah did not fail to generate by these means an anti-Janata 
tide; he succeeded in persuading substantial sections of Sunni 
Muslims to forget at least for the time being, their grievances, 
hostility and hatred against him, his colleagues and his rule. 
He emerged once again as a hero, as the champion of the Muslim 
cause and the defender of Islam. If, in the process, secularism 
and communal harmony in the State received hard blows and 
w'ere badly impaired, Sheikh did not mind it. If his reputation 
as a non-communal leader was damaged he ignored it believing 
that success at the polls t\111 rehabilitate him in the eyes of the 
Indians as had happened on other occasions in the past forty 
years. Did he not ad\ise his colleagues that if they could take 
care of the present, the future will take care of itself? 

Basically and essentially a struggle for emancipation by down- 
trodden Kashmiris, the uprising of 1931 was unfortunately 
accompanied by religious fanaticism when a few Hindus were 
killed, Hindu homes and shops in Srinagar and other places 
looted on July 13 and after. The upheaval threw up Abdullah 
as a new messiah of the Kashmiris and knight-errant of Islam, 
and his party, Muslim Conference (later, in 1939, rechristened 
National Conference), as representative body of the community. 
Although when National Conference came to power July 13 was 
declared a national holiday and is celebrated annually as 
Martyrs Day, the Hindus and Sikhs as a class have never recog- 
nized it as such and mostly dissociate themselves with the cele- 
bration. They allege that neither the 1931 movement nor July 
13 can be recognized national in character because non-Muslims 
have suffered at the hands of Muslim fanatics when the upheaval 
took place. By the end of 1932, Sheikh Abdullah fell out with 
some of his senior colleagues in the movement who were 



Hooliganism and Feigned Illness 


73 


commonly accepted as the hereditary leaders of the Muslim 
community. Having caught the imagination of ignorant sections 
of Kashmiris especially explosive youths, Abdullah collected a 
sizeable force of hoodlums to intimidate and cow down his 
opponents. Though the rift between him and old timers became 
permanent and has lasted to this day, he held his own by 
demonstrating the power of hooliganism in politics. By striking 
terror in the minds of those who opposed him, the small but 
organized band of hooligans made the public and the admini- 
stration believe that he was the popular and genuine leader of 
the Kashmiris; others had lost the influence they wielded. 

During the past forty-five years Kashmir political life has 
undergone many changes for better or for worse, but the two 
evils imbibed at the early stages have clung tenaciously to it. 
Abdullah and his followers have grown from mere agitators to 
be rulers of the State but have not outgrown the two evils. From 
time to time they have resorted to both religious fanaticism and 
rowdyism in fighting opposition and, as ill luck would have it, 
they have profited by it. As shown earlier, National Conference 
hooligans took a prominent part in elections to the Lok Sabha 
in March 1977 to frighten the supporters of Maulvi Iftikhar 
Hussain Ansari and Syed Gilani who opposed National Con- 
ference candidates. Public resentment had compelled the rufiSans 
to lie low for a few Weeks but when religious passions were 
aroused by painting Janata as a body thirsting for Muslim blood 
it facilitated the task of hooligans to restart their operations with 
public sympathy. Launching electioneering campaign on May 
23 Abdullah introduced party candidates at Majahid Manzil 
and made a virulent attack on the opposition. Next day many 
Janata members were beaten up and molested. Among them 
was Peerzade Ali Shah, former Vice-President Kashmir National 
Conference; his house at Zaindar Mohalla was ransacked, his 
drugshop pelted and members of his family harassed. Then 
followed regular depradations of the miscreants in different 
parts of Srinagar to bulldoze Janata supporters. 

After a few days a new body called Youth Federation was 
formed under the auspices of National Conference. It enlisted 
riffraff, convicted criminals, notorious bad characters and a 
number of excitable educated youth. Under it different groups 



Hooliganism and Feigned Illness 


75 


not by democratic means. He charged National Conference 
leaders with adopting similar tactics in the past to cover up their 
misdeeds^. 

The National Conference started a flag war in which hooli- 
gans took a conspicuous part. The party was within its right to 
hoist party flags wherever it liked. It, however, went beyond its 
limit when party flags were raised on state buildings, mosques 
and government schools; buntings were also set up across public 
streets. The Janata Party had an equal right to do the same but 
the hooligans pulled down Janata flags by force causing 
skirmishes and brawls. The chief secretary to the Government, 
P.N. Kaul, called a meeting of the representatives of the main 
political parties, including the National Conference and the 
Janata Party, in his office where after discussion an agreement 
was concluded that hoisting of flags and raising of buntings 
would be confined to party offices or private houses whose 
owners were willing to allow it. From other places the con- 
cerned parties were asked to remove the flags and buntings. 
But the National Conference refused to do so, repudiated the 
agreement and disowned its own representative who had given 
his consent to it. What was worse, the hooligans went round 
the city attacked Janata Party offices and destroyed Janata flags 
and buntings with impunity. The protests of Janata leaders 
proved of no avail. “The war of the flags has become a war on 
nerves” wrote Indian Express correspondent^. 

On June 1 1 , Mirwaiz Farooq a staunch supporter of the 
Janata Party and an intrepid fighter for Kashmir democracy, 
accompanied by hundreds of his followers in buses, went to 
Anantnag to address public meetings. This way of travelling in 
the countryside for election propaganda had been started by the 
National Conference. But Mirwaiz’s move was resented by them. 
Throughout the -route from Srinagar to Anantnag hooligan 
bands were posted to attack Mirwaiz’s party. The reports 
published in the National Press are of one view on this point. 
The Hindustan Times correspondent said that the clashes started 
after buses carrying chairman Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq of 

^Tinies of India, June 9, 1977. 

‘Indian Express, June 7, 1977. 



16 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


the Av^^ami Action Committee and his supporters reached 
Anantnag. The National Conference workers who had assem- 
bled at a distance from the venue of the meeting (in support of 
the Janata candidate Dr. Abdul Majid) started throwing stones. 
A large number of buses were damaged. The clashes then 
spread to other parts of the town. The Janata Party was^ how- 
ever, able to hold its meeting; there v/ere no incidents at the 
meeting. But buses carrying students returning after a day long 
trip were attacked. Many students W'ere injured and ten of 
them were admitted in Srinagar haspitaP. 

Samachar reported the incident thus : 

‘The offices of the Awami Action Committee and the Janata 
Party in the centre of Anantnag as well as several shops suffered 
damage as a result of hea\'y stoning.. . As the Mirwaiz’s 
supporters boarded their vehicles for the return journey, there 
was stone throwing. Word spread that National Conference 
Workers had plans to attack them en route and the convoy 
moved warily. At Khanabal where the Mirwaiz had been given 
an enthusiastic welcome by college students on his arrival, a 
hail of stones greeted them. The story was repeated all along 
the national highw’ay. At Bijbihara where Mirwaiz had addressed 
a brief meeting on the outward journey his followers had to 
virtually stone their way through hostile crowds. At Awanti- 
pma police halted the traffic apparently to clear the miscreants 
lining the bighv/ay”^. 

Many houses in Awantipura were set on fire and hundreds of 
the residents rendered shelterless and destitute. It was a signal 
for the Minvaiz’s party to turn away and take a detour to reach 
Srinagar. “The flames could be seen from a distance of more 
than five kms”, reported Hindustan Times correspondent®. 

The staff correspondent of the Times of India wrote : “As 
Maulvl Farooq’s supporters stormed into the main cbowk of 
Anantnag, National Conference workers began hurling stones 
on them. , . The National Conference workers who had stored 
in their houses and shops rocks and stones attacked Maulvi 


^Hindustan Times, June 12, 1977. 
-Ibid. 

^Ibid. 



Hoolisanism and Fcif^ncd lilness 


77 


Farooq’s supporters wlio passed throuph Bijbehara and 
Sangam. . . There u;ls violence in Parnporc and Pan Chov/k 
(Pant Chhuk) also". 

A large number of tourists and school children, including 
girls, returning from excursion to Pahalgam and other picnic 
resorts in South Kashmir were injured as the hooligans resorted 
to indiscriminate pelting on passing vehicles; some of the students 
were injured and many others were in tears. 

The role of the police force deployed in Anantnag and other 
towns was notable no less than deplorable. The .staff corres- 
pondent of the Times of India observed : “As they (the hooli- 
gans) were ruling the roost in the Anantnag chowk, the police 
virtually stood by as silent spectators.” The police no doubt 
cxplotled tear g.is shclK but instead of using them against 
law-breakers and miscreants threw them at the victims of row- 
dyism. The correspondent added ; “Some of the tear gas .shells 
landed on busc.s, carrying women and children, who had come 
to attend the meeting from Srinagar. As M.aulvi Parooq’s 
supporters ran heltcr skelter to take shelter in lanes and housc.s, 
National Conference .supporters Inirlcd stones at Aw;imi Action 
Committee ofilce brc.aking all window panes. They caught hold 
of the stray supporters of Maulvi I-arooq and beat them up’'T 

The Indian /Express rcprc.scntative reported that “scores of 
women and children in the vehicles were mercilessly attacked 
and injured”.- 

Nc.xl d.'ty after making an intensive .survey of the whole area 
the staff correspondent of the Times of Indio wrote a long report 
in which he said : 

“Over 2000 school children and tourists who were returning 
after a day’s outing in Pahalgam, Kokarnag, Daksiim and 
Verinag, were in the long convoy of buses and cars which 
became the target of the fury of miscreants who hit them with 
Slones and other missiles. Many children and others were injur- 
ed and treated in hospitals. Residents of Awantipura were ruing 
the day when tlic National Conference and other party flags 
were hoisted in the town. ‘We don’t play politics nor do we 


^Tillies of India, June 12, 1977. 
^Indian Express, June 12, 1977. 



78 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


want anybody to become our leader. Wby did they burn our 
house’, a middle-aged woman wiping tears from her eyes and 
squatting before her charred house said. . . The door to door 
campaigning and propaganda have divided people even in small 
towns. They were living quite happily like good neighbours 
until yesterday when the miscreants incited violence in which 
stones and rocks were freely used. , . The aftermath of violence 
was responsible for total strike by Kashmir Motor Drivers’ 
Association (K.M.D.A.) which runs a large number of tourist 
bus services to different resorts in Kashmir Valley. The office 
bearers of the K.M.D.A, told newsmen that 123 buses belong- 
ing to the Association were damaged in stone throwing yesterday 
and a dozen drivers and conductors were hurt. . . Their spokes- 
man alleged that National Conference workers had been threa- 
tening them with dire consequences because they had opposed 
Sheikh Abdullah’s transport policy”.^ The correspondent had 
himself been caught in the mob violence on the previous day at 
Bijbihara and had sought shelter in a shop^. 

The violent incidents at Anantnag and other towns created 
v/idespread resentment and uneasiness in South Valley and, in 
fact, all over the State. Over a hundred Janata Party men and 
Women were injured some of them seriously, who were admit- 
ted into hospitals for treatment. Maulana Sayed and myself 
went to S.M.H.S, Hospital in Srinagar and met fourteen patients 
who had been maimed for life, to console them. 

According to Statesman correspondent "tear gas shells were 
burst at Budshah Chowk at dusk to disperse a pro-Abdullah 
group, which broke the glass panes of a building where the 
leading urdu daily Srinagar Times had its offices”. The corres- 
pondent reported that “two vehicles which brought passengers 
from Ladakh to Srinagar were stoned and their windscreens 
smashed”.^ 

The Kashmir Motor Drivers’ Association suffered a heavy 
loss. As many as 123 buses had been badly damaged and 15 
drivers injured while returning to Srinagar . from Anantnag. 


''■Times of India, June 13, 1977. 
Hbid. 

^Statesman, June 13, 1977. 



Hooligani.siii and Fcigticd Illness 


79 


“Rows of buses with their windscreens and windows shat- 
tered bearing all the tell-tale marks of the stone throwing”, 
wrote special representative Statesman, “lined Srinagar’s main 
thorouglifarcs in front of the Kashmir Motor Drivers’ Associa- 
tion. All shop.s in the city centre arc closed and groups of 
people stood by the wayside all through the day watching scores 
of stone-throwing urchins playing hit and run games with the 
police.”^ In protest the Association resorted to a strike. 

In a Press conference the K.M.D.A. chainnan, Ghiilam Nabi, 
said “the strike may not be called of]' unless the administration 
tookaciion against partisan policemen and known criminals and 
goondas employed by the National Conference to intimidate 
drivers and passengers”. He added : “Tlic National Conference 
were wreaking vengence on the Association members .since the 
organi7..ation had supported the Janata Party. The hostility 
towards the Association started on the day Siicikh Abdullah 
warned on his return from Jammu tliat the National Conference 
would settle accounts with the drivers for supporting the Janata 
Party”.2 

On June 12, 1 met K.T. Satarwala. Adviser to the Governor, 
and strongly protested ngamst the rising tide of hooliganism 
and requested him that cfTcctivc measures be taken to curb 
National Conference goondas who were moving freely and dik- 
ing shelter in Mujhid Manzil when they needed it. I also wrote 
a letter to him stating that all evidence goes to prove that the 
National Conference leaders had made preparations in advance 
for the attack on Awami Action Committee workers and to dis- 
allow Maulvi Farooqfrom addressing public meetings in South 
Kashmir, “This is disconcerting enough,” I said, “but what 
is mo.st painful is the attitude of some of the police ollicials who 
arc reported not only to have witnessed the defiance of law and 
criminal activities of the National Conference hooligans without 
taking any action but also abetted and even encouraged the 
miscreants until the situation became very threatening”. 

To ofiset the cficct of Mirwaiz’s tour of South Kashmir the 
National Conference dc.spatchcd a fleet of buses on June 14, 

^Statesman, June 13, 1977. 

'Ibid. 



80 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


overflowing with workers to Anantnag. There was no attempt 
on the part of their opponents to attack them or disturb their 
meetings. But on their way to and fro the National Conference 
workers destroyed Janata flags, buntings, name boards, and 
other symbols and signs of opposition wherever they found them. 
This caused clashes and renewed the tension. Two days later, 
another fleet of veliicles carrying N.C. workers headed by 
Dr. Farooq, son of Abdullah, went to Baramulla to address 
public meetings. On return they repeated the depredations and 
onslaughts on opponents, looted shops displaying Janata emblem 
or flags and mishandled many men believed to be supporters 
of Janata Party. 

Clashes occurred at Pattan, Sangrama and Narbal when a 
number of men and women were injured. “Tension gripped 
many parts of Baramulla district and Srinagar city”, reported 
Statesman correspondent on June 18, “following a call for 
hartal given by the National Conference to protest against the 
death of two of its workers allegedly at the hands of Janata 
Party workers.” It was officially announced, however, that while 
the first incident was a case of murder by some unknown hand 
the second was a road accident and not a political event.^ 

The tragic incidents at Anantnag and other towns temporarily 
awakened the authorities to the gravity of the situation which 
they had persistently and deliberately overlooked despite the 
protests of the Janata Party, other political bodies and the 
peaceful citizens. Over 200 miscreants and militant National 
Conference workers were taken into custody. Oddly enough, to 
demonstrate their sham neutrality the police officers arrested a 
number of Janata and Awami Action Committee workers too 
who could not even remotely be connected with any unlawful 
activity. And what 'vas stranger and significant the notorious 
ones among the arrested National Conference workers were 
released after only a few days; they were given warm welcome 
in processions thus converting miscreants into heroes overnight. 
It added to the tempo of hooliganism of the National Confer- 
ence which attained new heights with passsing of every day after 
the middle of June. 


^Statesman, June 19 , 1977. 



Hooliganism and Feigned Illness 


81 


National Conference policy of intimidation and terror be- 
came increasingly successful in the achievement of its objective. 
Several sections of the people in the Valley were cowed down. 
and afraid of opposing or even criticising Abdullah and his- 
party. They were convinced that neither the administration 
nor the Janata Party were capable of protecting them from the 
assaults of the National Conference hooligans. Many among 
them counselled wisdom in supporting Abdullah or in any case 
not opposing him. 

The hooliganism took a new and more virulent turn in the 
closing days of the month of June for a reason to be presently 
discussed. Hardly a day passed when more than one Janata 
worker or those innoeent persons who were suspected of hav- 
ing Janata sympathies were not brought to Forest Lodge with 
their clothes torn and limbs injured by beatings. On June 16, 
a Shia lady escorted by a few relatives was brought in whose 
breasts had been pulled causing bruises and swelling; her 
tattered shirt and trousers were stained with blood, we could 
do no better than send her to Adviser Satarwala with a letter 
imploring him to get such brutalities stopped. We also told him 
that a free and fair election to State legislature could not be 
held in an atmosphere surcharged with intimidation and terror. 
The violence reached its apogee on the black July 3 when polls 
took place. But of it I shall say in detail in a separate chapter. 

That the National Conference leaders had to resort to 
violence on such a wide scale, unprecedented in its own history, 
furnished ample evidence of the massive opposition from the 
people they had to confront. But even the atmosphere of terror 
they were able to generate in the Valley failed to inspire belief 
in them that they would be able to win a majority of seats in 
the elections. The apprehension of sustaining defeat gnawed 
at their souls; they had not therefore ruled out the idea of boy- 
cotting the elections as a last resort to save their face. 

Though Mirza Beg and G.M. Shah hotly denied rumours 
going the rounds that National Conference was contemplating 
not to participate in the elections, some of their moves pointed 
towards it. Central Janata Party had decided, unlike the 
Congress when in power, to allow all parties fighting the 



82 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


elections anywhere in the country to use Radio and TV ,for 
propagation of their aims. In Kashmir the three main 
parties— Congress, National Conference and Janata Unit- 
got invitations from the Directors of Kashmir Radio and TV 
to meet them and fix time and date when they would like to 
depute their representatives to air their views on the objectives 
of their parties for contesting elections. All the three parties 
arrived at an agreement on the dates but subsequently, on June 
14, National Conference decided to boycott the broadcasts from 
both Radio Kashmir and Doordarshan (TV) Kendra in protest 
against the “partial attitude” of the two organizations alleging 
that news items pertaining to the Janata and its ally, Awami 
Action Committee, were being played up.^ Was this the first step 
towards the boycott of the elections ? Many in the political as 
well as official circles thought so. 

There is ground to believe that Abdullah entertained grave 
apprehensions of the consequences of defeat of his party. There 
had been a persistent demand from his opponents within Jammu 
and Kashmir and outside the State for setting up of an enquiry 
commission to investigate misuse of power, jobbery, corruption 
and nepotism when he was in office. Central Janata Govern- 
ment was not averse to it. Home Minister Charan Singh refer- 
red to it in a public meeting and revealed that Government was 
already looking into the matter. It caused the Sheikh much 
nervousness and depression. 

Abdullah’s first reaction to the charges brought against him 
was to hit back at the top Janata leaders of Kashmir. But none 
ofthem except A.G. Lone had ever held any office. Lone had 
the distinction of being alone in resigning ministership in 1973 
on moral principles which had been universally praised ; the 
Statesman wrote an editorial on the event paying encomiums 
to Lone. Maulana Sayed was respected alike by friend and foe 
for the hermit-like life of poverty he lived, for self-abnegation 
and self-effacement. When Abdullah in a public statement 
charged G.M.D. Karra for being on the payroll of Pakistan 
the latter retorted : “Those who live in glass houses should not 


'Indian Express, IxaiQ 15, 1977. 



Hooliganism and Feigned Illness 


83 


throw stones on others”. He said his name did not figure in 
the list of those receiving money recently published in Pakistan.^ 
In colTce house, restaurants and tea shops in Srinagar the book 
on Kashmir written by B.N. Muliik, a former chief of CBI, was 
circulated: it contained facsimile copies of letters and receipts 
of National Conference leaders, including Begum Abdullah, 
pertaining to the money which came from Pakistan, for a 
number of years when Abdullah and Afzal Beg were spreading 
anti-India venom through Plebiscite Front. 

Abdullah had been suffering from diabetes and some other 
minor ailments for a number of past years. It is not therefore 
surprizing that ten.sion and depression caused by stiff opposition 
to him should affect his heart. On June 13, a National Confer- 
ence Press release announced that “he is suffering from heart 
trouble for the last one week”." An expert, performer, he can 
recite holy verses of the Koran, weep, moan and indulge in self- 
pity on public platform to arouse mass emotionts. To feign 
illness of a serious nature was a calculated move on his part to 
arrest the onward march of the opposition and pointedly invite 
tlic attention of the people, both friends and foes, towards him. 
The theatrical immediately met with a success which even the 
most optimistic of his supporters did not c.xpcct. 

Two specialists, Dr. M. C. Bhatia, head of the department of 
cardiology, and Dr. J. S. Bajaj, professor of medicine at the 
All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, were flown 
to Srinagar to examine the "patient”. 

The news of Abdullah’s illness spread like wild fire; hundreds 
of his worked-up followers paraded the streets and proceeded to 
his house. Telegrams and mc.ssagcs of sympathy includingthose 
from Prime Minister Desai, Home Minister Charan Singh, 
Janata Party President Chandra Shekhar, Mrs. Indira Gandhi 
poured into the "sick” leader’s house. Dignitaries from ail 
classes and communities paid calls at his residence. Two 


^Times of India, April 8, 1977. 
"Indian Express, June 14, 1977. 



84 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


topranking generals of the Indian Army came with floral tributes 
and good wishes from rank and file. The city talked of nothing 
else but the illness of the Sher-i-Kashmir. What else did the 
“heart patient” need to boost the fallen shares of his political 
stock ? 

The news reached Forest Lodge in the afternoon on June 
13 and Maulana Sayed and G.M.D. Karra who partly because 
they always have had a sneaking regard for Sheikh’s personality, 
and partly also to show that political differences should not come 
in the way of good social relationship, wanted to pay a call and 
cheer him up, I must confess 1 was opposed to the idea because 
apart from disbelieving that the Sheikh was really that ill, I 
thought it would impart undue respectability to him in the eyes 
of the people in the State and outside. In any case, I expressed 
reluctance to accompany my colleagues if they were determined 
to go to the Sheikh’s residence. But both of them were insistent 
that 1 must also go with them and in deference to their wishes 
I had to yield. 

Foolish though the call seems in retrospect, none of us had the 
remotest idea of the ugly scene of rowdyism which was enacted 
by the ragtag and bobtail collected outside Abdullah’s residence. 
Our car was mobbed, kicked and pelted; its rear windscreen 
was smashed : attempts were made to drag us out and assassinate 
us; no invective was bad enough to hurl at us. This was done 
in the presence of prominent National Conference leaders 
including Begum Abdullah and her son Dr. Farooq. The tact 
and skill that superintendent police, Hafeez, displayed in 
making way for us through the furious crowd saved the situation. 
He conducted us into the adjacent house of Sheikh’s son-in-law, 
G. M. Shah. The rowdy scene outside was disgusting enough, 
but a more nauseating event waited us inside. While seated in 
the living room, one after the other, Shah and Mohiuddin Mattu, 
a near relation of Sheikh, entered and in a barrage of words 
hurled filthy abuses at us threatening to tear us to bits. Afzal 
Beg, Sadaruddin Mujahid, Habib Ullah Zargar and two other 
admirers of Sheikh were present in the room but made no 
attempt to stop Shah and Mattu from acting in the vulgar, 
indecent and uncultured manner. Karra and myself wanted to 
leave but Maulana insisted that we must pay a call on Sheikh and 



Hooliganism and Feigned Illness 


85 


enquire aficr his health from himself. This was not allowed. We 
overheared a member of the family telling Drs. Bajaj and Bhatia 
that the Janata visitors wanted to see Sheikh and if this may be 
allowed; the reply was : “We would not prevent them from 
doing so." 

We were rebuked by colleagues for the inadvisable visit when 
back in Forest Lodge and by friends for many days. 

Amusingly, soon after we returned, a special messenger 
brought in the evening a letter from Abdullah, signed by him- 
self and addressed to Maiilana S.aycd. It read: 

“I learned that you had come over to my house along with 
Karra Sahib and Ba7.:iz ,Sahib to look me up. I am grateful for 
the concern shown by you all for my health, I am feeling much 
better now and medical treatment is continuing satisfactorily. I 
was pained to know that while you and your colleagues were 
entering my house a group of persons broke the back window 
of the car in which you all were seated. Please accept my regrets 
for this sad incident and convey the same to your colleagues." 

The letter contained no word of apology or regret for the 
unprovoked and unbecoming behaviour of Shah and Mattu. 

The letter gave no indication of the seriousness of Sheikh’s 
illness; his handwriting was firm as usual. The actor had for 
the moment forgotten the histrionic role he was playing, while 
sending the letter in haste. 

After thoroughly e,\amining Sheikh Abdullah the two 
specialists from New Delhi declared the ailment not serious and 
said that “the treatment prescribed by the two local physicians, 
Dr. AH Mohammed Jan and Dr. G.Q Allaqaband, should be 
continued”.^ 

But the outcome of feigned sickness and New' Delhi doctors 
visit was highly satisfactory to the Sheikh and his followers. 
National Conference leadership jumped at the idea that for the 
party’s success at the polls it is nccc.ssary that people in the 
Valley should remain stricken by the perplexing belief that 
Sheikh is very ill. As a matter of fact, rumours were spread in 
the following days that his left side was paralysed and he could 


'■Times of India, June 14, 1977. 



86 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


not move from the hed; his photographs on sickbed in a posi- 
tion evoking human sj-mpathy of both supporters and opponents 
appeared in a local journal. On June 25 an unconJSnned report 
was circulated that he was already dead and the body was kept 
in tons of ice so that his removal from the scene did not 
adversely affect the chances of the party at the polls. 

As we shall see the feigned nature of the illness was exposed 
on the day it was declared that the National Conference ' Party 
had “won” the majority of seats in the election. 

The histrionics of illness worked wonderfully well. Plans 
were formulated to take the maximum advantage of it under 
cover of religious ceremonies. Crowds of National Conference 
supporters visited mosques, shrines and other sacred places under 
pretence to offer prayers for the recovery of the dying leader. 
“Several hundred rams were taken to Hazaratbal and other 
mosques for being offered as sacrifices for the Sheikh’s reco- 
ver}'” The gatherings were essentially political for mobilizing 
voters in support of National Conference candidates and for 
discrediting the opposition. It gave efiective shelter to the 
rowdies to threaten and, if necessary', thrash Janata workers. 
Any criticism of Abdullah, his colleagues or National Conference 
candidates v/as considered callous while the aged Lion of 
Kashmir was hovering between life and death. Begum Abdullah, 
Afzal Beg and other stalwarts of the party shed tears addressing 
public meetings and telling people that the last wish of Sheikh 
was to make the candidates successful at the polls. For 45 years 
of imintcrrupted service rendered by him to the Muslim 
community, they remonstrated, this was the minimum wage to 
which he was entitled. The ruse paid handsomely and there 
were indications in the last week of June that the tide had 
begun to turn in fav'our of the National Conference though the 
position of Janata Party was still far from being hopeless. 


^Tm-.es of India, June 14, 1977. 




Bickerings in Kashmir Janata 


A fter independence, rulers of Jammu and Kashmir State 
were not the freely chosen representatives of the people 
as they should have been but were the nominees and proteges 
of the Central Congress Government. Whether they were the 
leaders of the National Conference as in the early years (1947- 
1953) and during 1975-1977 or belonged to the Congress as in 
the intervening period, their source of power was New Delhi. 
No doubt, to hoodwink the world opinion and silence the demo- 
cratic elements in the State, the farce of elections was enacted 
periodically along with the general elections in the rest of the 
country, but the fact remained that the final decision about selec- 
tion of candidates, extent of rigging and supply of funds rested 
with the Central Congress leadership. Not even once were the 
elections fair and free, and a candidate holding independent 
views had slim chance to get elected. It was taken for granted 
tliat so long as the ruling party was in the good books of the 
central government it was sure by hook or by crook to win the 
majority at the polls; most of its candidates were declared elec- 
ted without contest. 

A tradition had been established under Congress rule that 
witli the announcement of elections to the State Assembly local 
Congress leaders would nominate candidates, get them approved 
by the centre and supply them with ample funds to “contest”. 



88 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


Most of the candidates, if not all, would feel sure to get “elected” 
w'ithout even the show of a fight. Poor voters, especially in the 
Valley, were deprived of their democratic right to choose their 
representatives ; when in later elections a candidate here or there 
was successful in defeating a ruling party nominee, it surprised 
everybody and was considered a freak in the election process. 

It must therefore be acknowledged that when Congress rule 
was overtlirown and Janata Party came to power in the centre 
not a few political workers in the State rallied rotmd the yellow 
and green banner in the hope that the same old tradition would 
be followed by the new rulers; it would be only a question of selec- 
tion of candidates by the Ad Hoc Committee and formal approval 
of the the same by the central leadership; funds would come in 
abundance and the candidates would get “elected” even if they 
were not popular in their constituencies and did not exert them- 
selves to secure votes from the people. It was generally believed 
that the Janata Party would form government whether or not 
the people willingly voted it to power. No wonder that when a 
second adviser to the Governor, K.T. Satarwala, was appointed 
it was believed he had been deputed with the object of mainly 
assisting Janata Party to capture the legislature by “winning” 
majority of votes. Despite my best endeavours to discount 
this unfounded impression, the view persisted to the last that 
Satarwala was a pro-Janata man and every Janata supporter 
looked towards him for help and would feel angry and sullen 
if any of his demands whether reasonable or not was rejected. 
It is true that National Conference had launched a consistent 
and venomously spiteful campaign that Satarwala had come to 
rig the elections and would do so at any cost. As the scene after 
scene of the election drama unfolded, I was astounded to disco- 
ver that a number of prominent Janata leaders including some 
members of the Ad Hoc Committee, harboured such an anti- 
democratic misconception. When I tried to argue with them 
that in such a case no principle was involved in the election 
contest and we would be replacing the old totalitarianism by a 
new one, I was mocked at by these colleagues : “You are living 
in a world of fantasy and sure to be vanquished” was the com- 
mon reply to my protestations that I will never support the 



Bickerings in Kashmir Janata 


89 


theory of Abdullaliism without Abdullah which these friends 
were propounding in effect. 

The Ad Hoc Committee was a body of dissimilar elements, 
some of whom were not friendly to each other and gave vent 
to hostile feelings, not unoften impolitely. The members had no 
unity of purpose, objective or principle; the only ground on 
which they stood, was their hatred of Abdullah’s arrogant atti- 
tude and dictatorial behaviour, and authoritarianism of both 
National Conference and Congress parties. The main aim of 
the members, barring a few honourable exceptions, was capture 
•of power and neither vindication of human values nor establi- 
shment of democratic norms and principles in public life in the 
State. 

As the day of election drew nearer the number of Janata 
workers holding the view of achieving success by means fair or 
foul which came to my notice, grew larger. There occurred a 
moral crisis in my personal life. I had come to Kashmir to 
participate in practical politics to assist the people in the demo- 
lition of totalitarianism and dictatorship of a caucus which had 
entrenched itself and in the rise of democratic forces in State 
politics. I had made this abundantly clear to everyone. I saw 
no meaning or sense in our struggle in general and the battle 
for the ballot in particular, if we harboured the idea that Janata 
must be put in the saddle by the same underhand means as was 
the National Conference and the Congress in the past. To me 
this was revolting and repugnant and therefore totally unaccep- 
table. 

One week before leaving New Delhi for Srinagar, I had 
recorded in my diary on Friday, April 8 : 

‘T made it clear to both Shamim and Karra when we met that 
I shall have no interest in the political movement in Jammu and 
Kashmir State, if the aim is not founding of democratic norms 
and values but of replacing one coterie by another even if the 
latter is composed of our friends. I dislike to bring any person 
or group to power irrespective of the wishes of the State people. 
We have to shatter anti-democratic traditions laid during past 
thirty years, once and for all.” 

Dismayed to find that some members of the Ad Hoc Commi- 
ttee too had no qualms if the elections were rigged to defeat 



90 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


our opponents. I thought it ad\isable to know the views of 
Mauiana Masoodi on the crucial matter of moral significance. 
I was heartened to learn that he was in entire agreement with 
me that, come what may, our weapons should be clean and we 
should not play foul in any case even though our adversaries 
may come down to any low level in defeating us. He discoura- 
ged, like myself, any talk of rigging or casting false votes for 
Janata candidates even if it v/ere possible v/ith government 
connivance w'hich, I am sure, it was not. Both of us believed that 
by utilizing only clean methods in the struggle for power even 
if v/e are defeated, we shall have sown the seeds of democracy 
which will in course of time sprout and germinate; otherwise 
we shall have strengthened the pernicious traditions which we 
profess to fight and desire to uproot. It was but natural that the 
blame for the defeat of most of the Janata candidates at the 
hustings should be laid at the door of the two of us. I, hov/- 
cver, stand unrepentant at what has happened and believe 
the same is the case with the Mauiana, though both of us 
deeply deplore the fascist methods employed by National 
Conference leadership in the elections. 

The securing of funds was a different matter. I w'as not opp- 
osed to central leadership supplying them from its party coffers 
to fight the elections. But here too the old tradition was to 
furnish large and equal amounts to each and every candidate 
irrespective of his or her merits and needs. The Mauiana and I 
held that well-to-do candidates should be gratefulforhavingbeen 
selected and should spend money on electioneering from their 
ovm pockets. As for others, funds should be given according to 
financial circumstances and actual requirements of a candidate. 
Elections should not be converted into business and made a 
source of income. The distinction caused heart burning and I 
know how tremendously difficult it was for the Mauiana who 
handled party funds, to distribute them on the basis of the 
principle of merit. Again, it dismayed me to find some of our 
valued co-workers v/ho were not poverty-stricken greedily 
demanding money day after day. But I must hasten to add that 
I. unexpectedly, met a few/ noble persons to whom money did 
not matter as long as they could effectively carry’ on the work 
in their constituencies with the aid of propaganda literature 



Bickerings in Kashmir Janata 


91 


published by the Party. I have no doubt in my mind that if 
democracy will survive and grow in the Slate these men of 
promise will prove its bulwork and asset in days to come. 

I have already alluded to the unsaiisfiictory manner in which 
the Ad Hoc Committee of the Janata Party was brought into 
being. It caused jealousies and many politicians who thought 
they were entitled, due to their past record and position in 
public life, to be on the Committee but were not included, 
grumbled and tried to bring the Committee into disrepute. 
The aspirants for the membership of the committee were num- 
berless. Besides, the members of the Ad Hoc Committee could 
not agree on the new nominations which Maulana Masoodi, 
as the convener, had the authority to make. Whenever he 
attempted to propo.se names of certain candidates fierce bicker- 
ings took place among the Kashmiri politicians; only four 
workers from Jammu region — Rishi Kumar Kaushal, Tilak: 
Raj Sharma, Shiv Ram Manmar and Ved Bhasin — were chosen; 
though five others from the Valley were proposed but they were 
not approved till the end because there was no unanimity 
among the Kashmiri members of the committee about them. 

1 was a target of attack by one group of Kashmiri Pandits; 
they denied my representative character which I never claimed. 
Representations were made and deputation led to every autho- 
rity from Convener, Maulana Masoodi to Prime Minister Morarji 
Desai blaming me as anti-Pandit, Radical Humanist and atheist. 
As I had no keen desire to be a member of the Ad Hoc 
Committee and I had never asked to be nominated as such, 
I considered the controversy futile and unnecessary. I asked 
the Maulana to relieve me of the burden and save the Janata 
from avoidable controversy but he would not let me go and 
I thought it morally improper to let him down. In any ease, I 
was to leave the Janata by the end of the elections.- 

It is notable that Pandit youth, or at any rate an organised 
section of it, was happy at my being on the committee. I received 
a bunch of letters from different parts of the State to this effect. 
An organization called Kashmiri Pandit Yuva Morelia opposed 
the group which disliked my membership of the Committee. 



92 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


In letters which Shadi Lai Bhat, President of the Morcha, wrote 
to me, the youth extended fullest support to Kashmir Janata 
Party. Being the author of the controversial book, the Bole of 
Bhagavad Gita in Indian History, and an atheist were the main 
arguments advanced by orthodox Pandits for my being unfit to 
have a place on the Ad Hoc Committee. The protestations of 
my colleagues that, firstly, 1 never asked to be a member of 
the Committee and, secondly, I w'as not nominated because I 
represented Pandit community but because my ser^'ices and 
long experience in State politics were needed b}’ the Party, 
proved of no avail. - 

Maulana Masoodi made a sporting offer to disgruntled 
Pandit factions when they persisted in their demand to have 
representation on the Committee : “choose imanimously some- 
one and I shall unhesitatingly have him on the Committee 
provided he cherishes faith in Janata principles”. Though 
ever}’ faction continued to press for the nomination no unani- 
mous choice w’as ever made and the matter rested at that. 

Being a practicing secularist was considered a disqualification 
of Ghulam Nabi Untoo, a former member of Indian Parliament 
and a consistent Congressman for years, by some sections of 
Muslims. He is a selfless man devoted to the cause of demo- 
cracy and rejected the suggestion to personally contest elections; 
the objection against him therefore cut no ice. 

Thejealousy which deependinto enmity among some members 

of the Ad Hoc Committee came prominently to notice at the time 
of nomination of new' members to the Committee, as also when 
the eight-member committee to select candidates for election 
W’as constituted, and again when the Yuva Janata (Youth Wing) 
was fanned on May 27. It emasculated the Kashmir Janata. 

The ugliest aspect of thejealousy came into view while can- 
didates were chosen for contesting elections during the closing 
days of May. There were over 250 applicants for 42 seats of 
the Assembly in the Kashmir Valley, Little thought was given 
to the merits of a candidate for becoming a legislator. Majority 
of the members of the election committee were themselves candi- 
dates and cver}'one w’anted to have as many supporters in the 



Jiickcrings in Kashmir Janata 


93 


Assembly as he could muster. It assumed the shape of a tussle 
between the favourites of different aspirants for power in the 
new government and not a choice among meritorious applicants 
desen'ing to be legislators. In the circumstances, while cases of 
some qualified claimants were ignored many good-for-nothing 
persons were chosen and given tickets who had no chance to 
win for lack of support of the local people. 

The truth is that there were as many as four persons in the 
Ad Hoc Committee who believed they were rightful claimants 
for chief ministership in the ne.xt government. Granted that the 
Janata Party was destined to come to power by securing majority 
of votes at the polls if possible with the support of the people 
and without it if necessary, and granted also that almost every 
candidate chosen by the election committee would be successful 
in the contest, the aspirants for chief ministership were anxious 
to have as many of their favourites as possible accepted as 
candidates in order to facilitate their task at the time of election 
of the leader of the Janata Legislative Party. Besides paving 
way for failure of the party at the hustings it only widened the 
cleavage in the Ad Hoc Committee. 

While heated and acrimonious discussions were going on in 
the election committee and candidates chosen for dificrent con- 
stituencies, I was wondering w'hat will happen to Kashmir if 
somehow Janata Party succeeded in capturing majority of scats 
and getting the opportunity of forming the government. No 
doubt was left in my mind that it would be a bad day for Kashmir 
democracy even though National Conference totalitarianism and 
Abdullah’s dictatorship would come to an end. It would be 
replacing King Stork with King Log. I must confess that I felt 
disheartened and ill at ease by the way some senior members of 
the Ad Hoc Committee were conducting themselves. 

The mutual bickerings coupled with idiosyncracies of some 
members of Ad Hoc Committee dealt blows at Janata Unit and 
hampered the growth of democratic movement when its tide was 
still running high. 

Having accepted the role of guide, philosopher and friend of 
Kashmir Janata Party Maulana Masoodi should have gird up 
his loins and functioned as a dynamic leader. Instead of doing 



94 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


so, he stuck to certain ultra-Gandhian fads in the false, though 
sincere, belief that this was the best method of building the 
Party organisation. He persistently refused to activise himself 
which alone could have brought him in close contact with the 
people in all parts of the State whose hopes of a new and just 
era dawning in the State had been raised. He disdained to move 
out of Ganderbal, a small hamlet 30 km. from Srinagar. He even 
turned down the proposal to have a telephone line installed 
which would have connected his home with the outside world 
thus offsetting disadvantages of living in seclusion. Precious 
time of important and busy people was wasted to meet the 
Maulana. The members of Ad Hoc Committee had frequently 
to make avoidable journey to Ganderbal to seek his views on 
many big and small matters that needed immediate attention. 
When Forest Lodge was secured to house the main office of the 
Janata Party, it was with great difficulty that I could break the 
Maulana’s resistence and prevail upon him to shift there. 

Partly due to old age and failing health but mainly enchanted 
by peculiar romanticism to live in ivory tower, the Maulana 
expressed reluctance to tour the State even when candidates 
impressed upon him how sorely they needed his presence in their 
constituencies to inspire the voters by his sage advice for stoutly 
fighting the evils of totalitarianism and corruption. No reasons, 
no appeals and no warnings would move the Maulana who stood 
immovable like a rock in Forest Lodge until the last. 

Karra's idisosyncracies proved even more annoying to his 
colleagues and undermining the rising forces of freedom. Some- 
how it came into his head that if he pretended to withdraw from 
contest in the field of election, he would be able to eclipse his 
rivals and strengthen the Janata Unit. I tried to dissuade him 
from taking this peurile, hypocritical and tactless step fraught 
with vicious implications. But one day in a gathering of young 
men, without consulting any of his colleague or even a bosom 
friend, he made a declaration at the spur of the moment that he 
had decided not to stand as a candidate for election. It lacked 
sincerity. With a little pressure in a meeting of Ad Hoc Com- 
mittee that was brought to bear on him the next day, he recanted 
but not before he had made a fool of himself and lowered the 
prestige of Janata Unit. 



11 

The Partisan Governor and 
a Disappointed Adviser 


A number of people belonging to different political camps 
felt that if the elections were to be really free and fair 
both the Governor, L,K. Jha, and his adviser, S. Banerji, should 
go and be replaced by impartial persons. Several allegations, 
some of them of a serious nature including their partiality to- 
wards Abdullah and his party, were made against both. I gave 
no credence to the accusations because, for one thing, in New 
Delhi I had heard words of appreciation from friends at least 
one of whom, M.R.A. Baig, knew them personally and could 
vouchsafe their integrity and capability. As a matter of fact, 
Jha and Banerji have had a uniform good record of work and 
had satisfactorily discharged important jobs of responsibility 
under central government in the past. There was, therefore, 
no reason to entertain misgivings about the two functionaries 
who wielded full power over the State under the Governor’s 
rule. But it was wellknown that by living for a few years in 
salubrious climate but murky politics of Kashmir even men of 
proven integrity turn to be different. 

It was alleged that by having yielded to Abdullah on March 
27 dissolving the State Assembly in which Congress Party 
enjoyed a clear majority and was entitled to form government 
after having voted out the Sheikh, L.K. Jha had not provided 



96 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


a shining example of his impartiality. 

Abdullah in a statement on March 29, 1977, not only wel- 
comed the dissolution of the Assembly but said, significantly, 
that “interests of the State and wellbeing of its people are safe 
in the hands of the Governor”. He added that “in this onerous 
task the Governor and his adviser will have our whole-hearted 
cooperation and support”.^ But opponents of the Sheikh des- 
cribed numberless small and big events to prove that Jha and 
Baneiji v/ere party to misuse of power by Sheikh during two 
years of his administration. These tales must have been carried 
to Government of India which though reluctant to remove the 
two men from the scene, were compelled to have another 
adviser appointed to be in charge of the election and inspire 
confidence of the State people in the impartiality of the 
administration. He was K.T. Satarwala. 

Anticipating fierce contest in the elections. Governor Jha 
and Adviser Baneiji launched warily on their course of ruling 
the State by themselves. In a broadcast from the Srinagar 
station of AIR, Jha said ; “It wiU be our endeavour to deploy 
officers of integrity in the electoral process. Strict instructions 
have been given to all concerned to provide the fullest protec- 
tion to aU political parties and individuals to carry on their 
legitimate activities. Action without fear or favour, will be 
taken against those elements which take recourse to lawlessness. 
Stone throwing and other acts of hooliganism will be put down 
with a firm hand”. Jha assured the State people: “I shall do 
everything within my power to ensure that the people are 
able to exercise their right of franchise freely and fearlessly”.^ 
What more did the people, especially the democrats, desire or 
demand ? 

Next day Adviser Banerji appealed to political parties in the 
State to adopt a self-imposed code of conduct so that “model 
conditions” were created for holding elections to the State 
Assembly in a free and peaceful atmosphere. Addressing a 
news conference he pledged that “the administration on its part 
would perform its duty impartially and with dedication so that 


^Indian Express^ March 30, 1977. 
'Indian Express, April 2, 1977. 




Maulana M. S. Masoodi (right) Mauivi Mohammad Farooq, 

and Prem Nath Bazaz Mirwaiz 


"We demand elections should be free and fair for the first time in post-lndepen» 
donee era. Democracy should have a chance to rise in Kashmir as in the rest 

of India" 


hi April 1977 "The electorate has paid the Congress proper remuneration by 
burying it ....Kashmir Congress is a dirty gutter. ..Democracy will undoubtedly 
thrive under Janata Party. We yearn to be its ally. ..Jan Sanghis are our brothers." 

In June 1977 "Janata Party is anti-Muslim Jan Sangh is new garb... the hands 
of Jan Sangh leaders are still soiled with Muslim blood." 


Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah 


Mirza M. A. Beg 





Quaide Azam M. A. Jinnah Prime Minister Morarji Desai 

"Indulgence in most offensive and "The State Government should deal 

vituperative language has become unsparingly with goondaism. Those 

Sheikh Abdullah's second nature.. officials who lack sense of responsi- 

Goopdaism must be put down at any bility should be removed from key 

cost." posts and partisan officials should 

be suspended and punished." 


'Goondaism would not be tolerated... "The Government will not hesitate 
Whatever has happened in the past to take strongest action if there is any 
this time the elections are bound to be attempt to resort to violence and 
free and fair". intimidation". 

Home Minister Charan Singh Defence Minister Jagjivan Ram 




Governor L. K. Jl»n Advisor K. T. Sntnrwafa 

Par'isrin . • , Concif’n:ious anti •//clt-fneonino but 

fonclofitj ir.effc'tue 


Sheikh Abdullah's theatricals in Sickbed 

Vv'ilh !ho cubPCif! of lu'iii-ups in ti-.f ndrninis’.ration thn hiGtrionicr. paid '.voil 

Photo Af-TAB 





Victims of Hooliganism 
(a few among the hundreds) 

Dr. Jagat MoMni vMib serious head injury, broken teeth and jaw-bones, 
unconsc'ous in Rattan Ham Hospital 


Miss Shaukai Ara soakeo in blood v/iih a nun.ber of bones broken, hovering 
oet.veen life and death in S. M. H. S. Hospital 









Begum Asra of Akahal v/ith fractured limbs in a dazed state in 

S. M. H. S. Hospital 


Mohammed Yusuf Wani with wounded head and disfigured face; maimed 
for life being treated in S. M. H. S. Hospital 




Some harassed men, v/omen and children out of thousands who were 
forced to flee from their homes in post-election days and took shelter in 
Islamia School and other places of safety 


One out of 1 23 buses belonging to KMDA oamagerf by goondas: the Injured 

driver stands along v/ith it 





The Partisan Governor and a Disappointed Adviser 


97 


people were able to elect their representatives to the State 
Assembly according to their own free will,” 

What heartening assurances were these given by the two 
men vitally concerned at the time with forging the destiny of 
the six million people of Jammu and Kashmir. But, alas, as the 
election drama began and scene after scene was enacted these 
proved to be mere words without meaning. It is difficult to say 
today whether or not Governor Jha and Adviser Banerji were 
sincere in making these solemn promises but as will be shown 
presently, in the days to come one by one the assurances were 
torn to shreds. Whether it was due to some understanding with 
Abdullah as was widely alleged during the days of heated con- 
test or because the appointment of second adviser was accepted 
as a challenge by Jha and Banerji will never be known, but it is 
still complained that neither of them stood by the pious pledges 
they had given at the outset. The allegations against Jha and 
Banerji came to the surface when Ali Mohammad Tariq, former 
Minister of State, who stood as an independent candidate 
against the Sheikh in the Ganderbal constituency, called upon 
Jha to make public the contents of a deal which he alleged had 
been entered into by the Sheikh with some big business houses. 
Tariq wanted to know why tlie Land Grants Act (Amendment) 
Ordinance was assented to by the Governor in the teeth of stiff 
public opposition in the State. It is true, an official spokesman 
repudiated the allegation that L.K. Jha was involved in any 
negotiations of the Abdullah Government with any business 
house but the statement and the counter-statement gave an 
inkling into the fears and suspicious which tossed the minds of 
the people. The charges of partisanship surfaced and critics 
became vociferous with passage of time focussing attention on 
pro-National Conference policy of the Governor and his 
Adviser. 

To offset the adverse effect of the commonly held belief that 
Governor and Sheikh were hand in glove to deprive the people 
of their democratic right of free vote, because of their private 
understanding on various matters, a controversy which was 
believed to be fake, was waged by the two in public. On May 13, 
Sheikh accused Jha with being partial to Janata Party in 
allotting Forest Lodge, a government building, to set up Janata 



Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


98 

headquarters and in transferring government officials under 
pressure. The Sheikh also took exception to the arrest of some of 
his party v.orljers and said that v/hile National Conference 
•y.orkers are being arrested the follov/ers of Mir Waiz v/ho had 
indulged in stone throv-ing at an Auqaf building rvere allowed 
to go scot free. The Governor had no difficulty in proving the 
hollowness of these charges which were flimsy, frivolous and 
baseless. For instance, regarding arrests it %vas easily shown that 
in March and April arrests had been made for creating disorder. 
Oct of those held 68 accused belonged to the Avrami Action 
Committee (Mir Waiz’s Party) and 65 to the National Con- 
ference, As regards giving a government building temporarily to 
Janata Party on usual rent, it was pointed out by the Governor 
that a number of government houses had been given in New 
Delhi and other places to political parties including the Congress 
and National Conference.^ Abdullah had a palatial house in New 
Delhi allotted by the Government a decade ago on nominal rent 
Vf’hich he no longer needed but had continued to keep it in his 
possession. 

The aim of both the parties, Jha and Abdullah, in resorting 
to the correspondence, was to remove the impression of having 
any understanding between the two and of its effiect on the 
process of election which exercised the mmds of State people. 

Nevertheless, the fears and doubts remained unallayed until 
the er;d and proved to be genuine with passage of every day'. 
The cat was let out of the bag by Abdullah himself when after 
the elec'.ions were over and he was invited by Governor Jha to 
take oath of office at P^aj Bhavan on July 9. Thanking the 
Governor, the Sheikh said ; “J assure y'ou on my' behalf and on 
behalf of my coIIeagu£s that you shall have the same unstinted 
support and confidence which we had in the past”. Then 
followed the confession of a protege and a pal : Jn an obvious 
rcfe.-ence. wrote the staff correspondent of the Times of India, 
to his recent exchange of letters with the Governor, the Sheikh 
said : “E'/ery'thing is fair in love and war. But now I assure you 
that we shall behave as good boys and not give you any cause 
for complaints”. Immediately after the oath-taking ceremony, 

’^Tirr.f. rf India, tZay 20, 1977. 



The Partisan Governor and a Disappointed Adviser 


99 


Abdullah expressed gratitude to Jha on his own behalf and on 
behalf of the State people for the efficiency with which he had 
carried on the onerous responsibilities of the administration 
during the period of Governor's rule. The Sheikh said he had 
heard rumours that Jha was wanting to, leave the State and 
expressed the hope tliat he would remain there. The Sheikh 
assured Jha that he had endeared himself to the people of the 
State by the way he had guided the administration in tackling 
their problems.^ “Since the Kashmir Accord of February 1975”, 
wrote the Indian Express correspondent, “under which Sheikh 
Abdullah gravitated to power for the first time after 1953, he 
had been repeatedly praising Mr. Jha for his services to the 
State, particularly in guiding the formulation and implementa- 
tion of the policies of economic development in Jammu and 
Kashmir”.- Thus neither the hireling heroics of Abdullah nor 
the partisanship of Governor Jha could be concealed forever. 

At critical times the Governor could hardly restrain himself 
from demonstrating his partiality towards Abdullah. Such, for 
example, was the occasion when the Sheikh pretended to suffer 
from a serious heart attack. Jha promptly called on him and 
despatched alarming reports about the grave condition of the 
“patient” prompting Prime Minister Desai to send a message 
of sympathy which he is believed to have later regretted when 
he came to know the fact. Jha even persuaded the military 
commanders to act improperly against the best Army traditions 
of neutrality in politics by putting an Air Force helicopter at the 
disposal of Begum Abdullah to fly her from the recesses of Doda 
district where she was engaged in electioneering for National 
Conference candidates, to Srinagar. It was done not only to 
make it possible for the Begum to be by the bedside of her 
“dying” husband but also to deepen the gravity of the situation. 

In contrast, Governor Jha maintained complete and inexcus- 
able silence when three Janata leaders were savagely attacked 
by hooligans outside Abdullah’s house. He did not express a 
word of sympathy with the victims who escaped assassination 
by a hair’s breadth; he did not care to inform the Union 

^Times of India, July 10, 1977. 

^Indian Express, July 11, 1977, 



100 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


Government as confessed subsequently by the Prime Minister 
nor did he order arrest of the criminals or even an inquiry into 
the incident which took place in broad day light. 

Another adviser to the Governor, K.T. Satarwala, was 
appointed by the Government of India on April 29. He was'a 
man of affable nature and polished manners. A former member 
of IAS, he had previously served in similar positions to three 
governors in different states and was therefore taken as an 
expert in the matter. But he was entirely new to the Kashmir 
State and though he visited every town and district to meet 
people in general and have personal contacts and discussions 
with political workers of all parties, he could not understand the 
currents and cross-currents of State politics in the very brief 
time of a month or so at his disposal. He had to depend heavily 
on the opinions of Jha and Banerji who did not and could not 
give him an objective picture of the situation nor guide him on 
right lines to successfully discharge the grave and historic 
responsibility with which he was entrusted. 

The Janata Ad Hoc Committee members and their allies 
were divided about the estimation of genuineness of the assu- 
rances given by Governor Jha and Adviser Banerji. Some of 
them entirely lacked confidence in both; though others were not 
sure that any trust could be placed in them, they considered it 
advisable not to antagonize them. When the Kashmir region 
Ad Hoc Committee of Janata Party met on April 29 at Gander- 
bal, a resolution was adopted complaining against the partisan- 
ship of the administration and a delegation was nominated under 
leadership of Ghulam Mohiuddin Karra to wait upon the 
Governor with a memorandum of complaints requesting him to 
replace notorious officers by men of known integrity and 
impartiality. But such was the intensity of the distrust in the 
Governor that Karra could never bring himself to lead the dele- 
gation and meet Jha. Karra, however, went to New Delhi and, 
on May 4, met Prime Minister Morarji Desai and “drew his 
attention to the partisan attitude of some officials in key posi- 
tions in the State and stressed the need for the administration 
to be manned by honest and impartial officials to ensure free 



The Pariixon Governor and a Disappointed Adviser 


101 


and fair elections*’.^ 

The Governor lookcalculaicd steps to effect transfers in the 
personnel of the administration particularly in police force but 
they were not unexpectedly unsatisfactory because more regard 
was paid in the move to safeguard the interests and fulfil the 
wishes of "National Conference Party and appease Abdullah 
than leaders of the other parties, 'The Janata Parly and the 
Awami Action Committee,” reported Samachar on May 15, 
“arc not satisfied with the administrative steps taken by the 
Governor to ensure that the assembly elections arc held in a 
free and fair manner. The chairman of the Awami Action Com- 
mijtcc, »Mirwaiz Mohammad Parcoq c.xprcsscd the view that 
even the poll timing suggested by the Governor was not 
suitable”. 

As the days passed swiftly by hooliganism of the National 
Conference, overlooked and even encouraged by a number of 
police officers and connived at by members of the administration 
in key positions, became a common and distressing observance, 
Jha usually turned deaf car to complaints and refused to inter- 
vene; he pretended that there was no truth In the complaints. 

One important question which called for immediate and 
earnest attention of Governor Jha'.s administration was gcrr>'- 
mandcring and recasting of electoral rolls to which Abdullah 
had resorted in the days lie licadcd the administration. By misuse 
of power during two years of their rule, National Conference 
leaders had reshaped the assembly constituencies where they 
found opponents in large majority. They had particularly 
altered the boundaries of the constituencies in Srinagar district 
and misshaped them to their advantage; they had also removed 
names of thousands of voters from electoral rolls who were 
known to support opposition. When this fact came to notice in 
early May, Janata leaders and the affected voters protested and 
appealed to the authorities to redress the wrongs done but to no 
purpose. 

When after the announcement of the list of National Con- 
ference candidates in a public meeting on May 23, Abdullah 
made an anti-India speech exciting religious passions of the 


’T/;c Tones of India, May 5, 1977, 



102 Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 

Muslims, rowdyism received a shot in the arm. There were 
clashes in Srinagar and the countryside at various places. Janata 
men were beaten, their homes and party offices raided. Protest 
telegrams were despatched to the Governor in scores from all 
the affected parts in the Valley to intervene and protect peace- 
ful citizens from the ruffians and law-breakers but the highest 
dignitary sat imperturbable and took no action to restore tran- 
quillity or defend those who had been mobbed or brutally 
assaulted. Jha invariably accepted the version of National 
Conference men that the reports of the Janata workers were 
either unfounded or highly exaggerated. 

Two results inevitably followed when it became widely known 
that the Governor was not at all serious to “pttldown hooligan 
elements with an iron hand” as he had assured in his broadcast 
from Kashmir Radio; Miscreants made rounds with impunity 
in broad daylight and on public thoroughfares striking terror 
in the minds of people; the officials who were in the beginning 
neutral either conscientiously or through timidity joined the 
band of those in official service who had been shown undue 
favours during the two years of National Conference rule and 
had therefore decided to support the party and help Abdullah 
capture power. The attitude of Governor Jha emboldened the 
partisan officials and further imdermined the moral standing of 
the administration if there was any previously, to the bafflement 
of Janata Party and its allies. 

Because of the poor opinion about Jha and Banerji held by 
the Kashmir Janata leaders they held aloof and did not care 
to meet K.T. Satarrvala for nearly a month after his arrival 
in Srinagar. They bracketed him with the other two as a limb 
of the same partisan administration and therefore of little use 
to democrats. I feared it was a coimsel of despair and apt 
to harm Janata interests and persuaded my colleagues to see 
reason. On May 26, along with Karra, I met Satarwala at his 
residence. We held a frank and heart to heart talk on many 
problems which we brought to his notice among them the impor- 
tant two being the mounting goondaism of the National Con- 
ference and the partisan altitude of the administration. Satarwala 
was receptive and listened patiently to what we had to say and 
it appeared to me that the information gathered by him from 



The Pariisaii Governor and a Disappointed Adviser 


103 


other sources confirmed our complaints. Me assured prompt 
and strong action to set the mattens rigiU, We got the impression 
that we had at last one man in the administration equipped 
with cITcctivc power and enjoying the Central Government’s 
authority and confidence, \vho would cope with the much 
deteriorated situation and create a climate in the State in which 
free elections could be held. 

Satanvala took copious notes of the talks and as we learned 
later, he visited most of the places where we had told him hooli- 
ganism prevailed and warned the concerned police officials to 
be vigilant and alert, and stiff towards lawbreaker.*;. He was 
energetic and acted promptly whenever convinced of the sub- 
stance in a point raised by an interviewer. He kept himself 
posted with current happenings and hastened to be prc.scnt at 
any spot where an unusual accident look place. His prime desire 
v/as to get elections held fairly, fearlessly and in a peaceful 
atmosphere for which he had been deputed. 

Believing that Satarwala could be helpful in establishing 
democratic norms in State politic.s and in holding free elections 
for the first time in thirty years, Janata men met him frequently. 
Letters were sent to him giving accounts of events from the 
Janata angle, and suggc.sting measures to maintain calm in the 
Valley, He did not overlook the fact that Janata was after all 
only one party out of many, contesting the elections but gave 
fullest consideration to what Janata had to say. Some aggrieved 
victims of hooliganism, both men and women, also met Saiar- 
wala and described their plight and .showed injuries inflicted on 
them, to him. Wherever and w'hcncvcr he could, he took action 
to bring the culprits to book but he was very cautious to see 
that no party was oflcndcd or had any legitimate cause for 
complaint. 

For about a month Satarw'ala was not convinced that 
National Conference aimed to win the elections through intimi- 
dation and terror, suppression of peaceful citizenry and by fraud 
and creation of chaos. But when on June 8, Dr. Jagat Mohini 
was assaulted and three days later over a hundred men and 
women belonging to Mir Waiz’s parly were injured, some of 
them seriously, on way to and fro Anantnag, he began to see 
through Abdullah’s game. The depradations of the National 



104 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


Conference workers on their way from BaramuIIa to Srinagar 
and on their crusade to Chrar Sheriff subsequently removed 
■doubts, if any were still lingering in his mind, that there could be 
no hope of holding fair polls if ruffians were left uncontrolled. 
Calling a meeting of high police officials, Satarwafa gave 
instructions to arrest notorious goondas and convicted criminals 
who had been pressed into service by the National Conference. 

The well considered step restored tranquillity and mollified 
peaceful citizens but brought Satarwala head on clash with 
Governor Jha and Adviser Banerji. There are reasons to believe 
that there was stiff opposition to Satarwala in adopting these 
steps. Satarwala desired to uproot hooliganism from State 
politics and bring each and every disturber of law to book. 
But his two colleagues were not prepared to co-operate with 
him: first, they forced his hand from going any further and, 
secondly, they made him arrest a number of Janata and 
Mir Waiz’s men also though they could not be accused of any 
defiance of law or assault at any rate in offence; thirdly, they 
impressed upon him the desirability of releasing a number of 
National Conference culprits for whom Abdullali, Begum 
Akbar Jan and National Conference General Secretary 
Ghulam Mobiuddin Shah bad raised an uproar. In a letter of 
June 10, Begum wrote to Satarwala “to restrain the police 
from terrorism’', and complained of “the strong arm tactics 
used by them during the last few days which had resulted in a 
wave of public indignation”.^ 

Satarwala put up a brave fight for the fruitfulness of his 
mission. But considering discretion better part of valour he 
yielded before Jha and ate the humble pie. He had to release 
the more terror-inspiring ruffians who were welcomed as heroes 
thereby enhancing the fallen prestige of the National Confe- 
rence; not a single Janata prisoner w'as released. And G.M.D. 
Shah, the General Secretary of National Conference continued 
to bewail that over 2000 of his partj'men were behind the bars 
though the official spokesman said that in all not more than 
506 persons belonging to all parties had been taken into 
custody. 


^Indian Express, June It, 1977. 



The Partisan Governor and a Disappointed Adviser 


105 


. Because the policy of weeding out undesirable elements 
from State politics and introducing democratic norms received 
a tremendous setback by interference of Jha and Banerji during 
June 10-15, the star of Salarwala set by middle of the month. 
He still continued to function vigorously as usual but became 
increasingly ineffective. The administrative setup from top to 
bottom came to know of his fall and his writ did not run; on 
election days it remained confined to his residence or his office 
in the Secretariat. 

I met Satarwala for the last time on June 27 at 12.30 p.m. and 
even knowing that I was hoping against hope, I unburdened a 
bundle of complaints against rising hoodlum force which was 
now in possession of the city and many parts of the Valley. I 
wanted to discuss the arrangements for maintaining law and 
order on July 3 when polling in the Valley was to take place. 
He showed me bis elaborate plans in this behalf which thougli 
inadequate, would have done something to contain mischief. 
But while in the middle of our talk I put a direct question to 
him about the cause of loss of his effectiveness. He was candid 
enough to tell me that for a fortnight his efforts had been 
thwarted and progress of his work retarded by his colleagues. 
He was unwilling to openly blame Jha but he unhesitatingly 
pointed the accusing finger at Banerji. I found him sad and 
disappointed. 

Conditions deteriorated rapidly in every respect during the 
second half of June. National Conference leaders accentuated 
their anti-India propaganda and gave fillip to communalism 
through religious preachings; hooliganism took a virulent form; 
more government officials, for one reason or another, supported 
National Conference and a number of junior officials even 
spoke from the party platform; raiding of Janata offices and 
beating of Janata workers became a widespread daily occur- 
rence. Even some officials in the departments under central 
authority joined the anti-Janata move. On June 16, a letter 
was sent to the Director of the Kashmir Radio pointing out the 
unfairness of “giving wider coverage to the news reports sent by 
the National Conference even when they were of insignificant 
nature while the reports sent by Janata Party were relegated to 
waste paper basket”. Giving an instance of broadcasting a highly 



106 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


irresponsible anti-Janata Party report in 7.30 p. m. bulletin 
on June 9, the letter protested : “If you or any of your subordi- 
nates has been cowed down by the threat of boycott of Radio 
and TV hurled by the 'National Conference, the way of appeasing 
the Party is not by bringing discredit on the Janata Party in 
the way you have done”. Amazingly, the Director denied 
that the item under reference was included in the bulletin 
though a number of listeners confirmed that they had heard it. 

The deterioration in the law and order was temporarily 
arrested by warnings issued by central ministers who toured the 
State in the third and fourth weeks of June. But hooliganism 
knew no bounds in the closing days of the month. It reappeared 
with added vehemence and virulence. 

When all hope of implementation of Satarwala’s measures to 
hold a fair election was lost, Maulana Masoodi, as a last 
resort, sent a telegram to Prime Minister Morarji Desai on 
June 30 bringing the situation to his notice. The Maulana told 
Morarji : “Your assurances about removal of partisan officials, 
complete impartiality of administration and firmness of police 
in dealing with hooliganism remain unfulfilled” and that “atmos- 
phere was surcharged with religious and secessionist frenzy”. 
The Maulana sent a copy of the telegram to Governor Jha with 
a covering letter. In it he protested that “had proper and strong 
measures been taken in wake of the visits of Union Ministers as 
all of them had assured us that your government is determined 
to do, we have no doubt that by now political life in the Valley 
would have returned to normalcy.” The Maulana informed 
Jha : “We have brought facts to the notice of the Additional 
Inspector-General of Police and the concerned Superintendents 
of Police from time to time but to no purpose; instead, our 
active w'orkers who form the superior cadre of our movement, 
including polling agents, have been put behind the bars not for 
any defiance of law but only because the National Conference 
leadership is afraid that these workers if left free can effectively 
mobilize numberless voters in favour of Janata”. The Maulana 
told the Governor that “we do not seek any favours but insist 
on neutrality and effective functioning of your administration, 
impartiality of police officials and curbing of hooliganism to 



The Partisan Governor and a Disappointed Adviser 


m 


make the elections free. Of this we do not find any .signs in the 
Valley”. 

The Prime Minister did not even acknowledge Maiilana’s 
telegram and the Governor gave the not unexpected stereotyped 
reply that “every complaint about the impartiality of any ofli- 
cial had been promptly looked into” and “as regards your 
apprehensions regarding police arrangements on the polling 
day, I should like to assure you, that we arc doing everything 
possible to prevent intimidation, hooliganism and capture of 
polling booths”. 

Not satisfied witli the Governor’s reply, the Maulana wrote 
back on July 2, eve of the polling day in the Valley. The 
Governor was emphatically told ; “Despite the claim made 
that the situation in Srinagar is under control, I am afraid that 
you arc kept in the dark about the actual happenings and the 
methods which arc employed to deal with the depradations of 
the hooligan elements and the callousness of the administration 
towards their victims. Even today a number of Janata suppor- 
ters were beaten, blood was shed, homes and shops looted and 
property damaged while the National Conference carried out 
their procession through some streets of the city. Some of the 
wounded were brought to our office in blood-soaked clothes 
while some of them were sent to hospital. A number of mol- 
ested women too came crying and bewailing their lot”. 

Expressing deep worry about police arrangements on Sunday 
when polling was to take place all over the Valley, the Maulana 
said : “The Kashmir Police has, let it be frankly admitted, failed 
in the discharge of their responsibility and amply displayed 
that most of its members arc deeply influenced by partisan 
politics. This is most unfortunate but can be overlooked at 
great risk by us”. The Maulana suggested that “the only cflcc- 
tivc measure would be to deploy entirely C.R.P. under their 
own officers from July 2 until the counting of votes is completed 
and excitement disappears”. He concluded by saying that, “the 
measures suggested by me alone in my opinion can allay the 
apprehensions of peaceful citizens though I continue to doubt 
if free and fair elections arc possible after what has happened 



108 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


during the past fortnight”. No reply was received to the 
second letter.^ 


‘Full texts of the telegram to the Prime Minister and the letters 
exchanged between Maulana M.S. Masoodi and Governor L.K. Jha arc 
given as Appendix B. 



12 


Incredible Bungling 


O N March 27, 1977, when the Janata Government readily 
accorded its assent to the recommendation of Governor 
Jha to dissolve the Kashmir Legislative Assembly and 
announced holding of frcsli elections within three months, it 
had only one aim in view: not to allow the Congress Party to 
come to power in the Stale. Probably the Janata Parly did 
not have any idea that it might be called upon to contest elec- 
tions on its own and, in that contingency, the interval of three 
months would prove too insufTicicnt to make preparations for 
building up a Janata unit in the State, strong enough to come 
out successful in the battle of the ballot. 

As we know, the first attempt to set up a Janata unit before 
the dissolution of the Assembly, to contest elections to the Lok 
Sabha had proved abortive; in-fighting had killed it. Early in 
April the three-member delegation headed by Asoka Mehta 
toured the State and nominated 21-membcr ad hoc committee 
which was recognized by the central leadership on April 27 as 
representative of the Party. This was the start of a series of 
incredible bunglings which ended in the debacle of Janata in 
the Kashmir Assembly election of 1977 and the landslide but 
fake victory of the National Conference. 

Janata Party had no footing, no base in Kaslmiir when 
the holding of fresh elections to the State Assembly were 



] ]0 Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 

announced in the Lok Sabha; in the Valley it did not have 
even a toc-hold. If the Congress rule in the State was an 
anathema to the Janata leaders, the wisest course would have 
bec*n to come to an understanding v/ith Abdullah and defeat the 
Congress at the hustings though it v/ould have made substantial 
sections of State people angry and sullen. But Abdullah’s 
extravagant and anti-integrationist terms v/ere unacceptable to 
majority of Janata leaders and it v/as v/ell knov/n that Sheikh 
had lost charm and popularity v/hich he once possessed. While, 
hov/ewer, forming the ad hoc committee the Mehta delegation 
made agravemiscalculation; anti-Abdullah resentment was taken 
as pro-ianata v/avc v/hich v/as sv/ceping over Northern India at 
the time. Many avoidable troubles flowed from that delusion. 

Among the fev/ immoral, unv/ise and shortsighted measures 
v/hich Jav/aharlal Nehru adopted as the Prime Minister of 
India v/as accq^tance of the State’s accession to India v/ithout 
ascertaining the free will of the local people. It created a runn- 
ing sore v/hich could not be healed during his lifetime. He V/as 
therefore forced to adopt a policy as undemocratic, unjust and 
myopic as the acceptance of accession ofler. Nehru identified 
Abdullah v/ith the people and believed that by installing him as 
the ruler of the State all v/ould go v/cll. But the fact is that 
Abdullah v/ould have been discarded by his people if Nev/ 
Delhi had v/ithdrav/n political, military and financial support 
to him. Disagreement among Congress leaders over his arro- 
gant attitude had throv/n Sheikh out of pov/cr for 22 years 
(1953-1975). Reviving and pursuing her father’s policy, Indira 
Gandhi as prime minister brought back Abdullah in 1975 as 
head of the State government v/ithout even caring to know the 
opinion of the Kashmiris. 

Janata leaders had never seen eye to eye with Jav/aharlal 
Nehru or his daughter on their Kashmir policy. Yet when they 
captured the Union Government they did not ponder over the 
grave problem nor had time to think out and evolve a heal- 
thier and more sensible and democratic policy to administer 
the State. Knov/ing that Kashmir is a delicate issue v/ith 
potential international repercussions they should have lost no 
time to give thought to it and encouraged democratic elements 
to rise and assert themselves in body politic. But engrossed in 



Incredible Bungling 


111 


Ihcir own organisational and administrative matters they paid 
no iiccd to Weeding Kashmir. They dealt v.'ith the problem 
from day to day as circumstances arose and made a mess of it. 
Kashmir was treated like any oilier state which was bound to 
give rise to many apprehensions and complications. 

Believing that Janata wielded enormous prestige in the 
State including the Valley, Mehta delegation made arbitrary 
choice of members for the .Ad Hoc Committee in the sincere 
hope that it will be able to function smoothly. Tlic .selection 
ofMaulana Masoodi as the convener of tlic committee was the 
best. Indeed, one can say that to successfully persuade the retired, 
frail and self-effacing man to re-emerge in the political field 
was a small miracle. But to foist upon him a band of disunited 
workers, some of them irreconcilable, was neither fair nor 
expedient. The sagacious course would have been to leave the 
selection of the members to him and accept his nominations. 
Since this was not done the Ad Hoc Committee carried the 
seeds of destruction within itself. Most of the time of the Com- 
mittee was wasted in fighting in both the regions of Jammu 
and Kashmir until the day.s of election. 

It should have been obvious to the meanest understanding 
that only by a magic wand could a new political body be built 
up from grassroots, a devoted cadre of workers assembled and 
election machinery geared, within the fantastically small period 
of two months to achieve success at the polls against such rival 
parties like National Conference and Congress which had been 
in the field for decades and held governmental power by turns 
since 1947. The Constitution provided a period of si.x months 
after dissolution of the assembly to hold fresh elections and, 
therefore, with the decision of the formation of the Janata unit 
the maximum time should have been allowed for preparations; 
no contravention of any constitutional provision or moral 
laxity would be involved in amending the official announcement 
in Lok Sabha that the elections would take place within three 
months from the dale of dissolution of the Assembly. 

The Ad Hoc Committee started from a scratch; it had no 
men, no material, no money to run the gigantic show it was 
required to set up for coming out with flying colours in the 
struggle against well entrenched totalitarian and dictatorial 



112 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


forces in the State. As if the formation of Ad Hoc Committee 
v/as the be-all and end-all of the central leadership and as if 
there was unlimited time at their disposal to deal with innumer- 
able questions confronting the unit, nothing was heard for 
many days and weeks from New Delhi after the departure of 
Mehta delegation. Every minute was precious; while ironing 
out differences and resolving disagreements among themselves 
the Ad Hoc Committee members, functioning as the executive 
of the Unit, lost patience. On May 4, G.M.D. Karra flew to New 
Delhi to apprise the central leadership of the unhappiness of his 
colleagues and the hopelessness of the situation; he returned 
with a bagful of assurances but little substantial help. 

In the beginning of May, Union Government took a momen- 
tous decision to dissolve the legislatures in eight states in north 
and east India where the Congress Party still held the reins of 
ofSce though it had been put to rout in Parliamentary elections 
in these areas. No wonder the Janata Party got deeply engross- 
ed in the elections which followed the dissolution and no atten- 
tion could be paid to Kashmir case, however urgent and press- 
ing it would seem to the Ad Hoc Committee. In the circums- 
tances it afforded some satisfaction to hear that while appoint- 
ing observers for all the states going to the polls, Krishna Kant, 
an old veteran of freedom struggle and famous for his progres- 
sive views, had been named for Jammu and Kashmir. 

Anxiously awaiting his arrival, the Ad Hoc Committee felt 
dismayed to find that the observ'er took his job leisurely and 
would not come until May 26 despite the members’ insistent 
demand that he should be among them early for consultation 
and assistance. 

The Committee entertained great hopes in Krishna Kant’s 
liaison between it and the central leadership. It looked towards 
him for the solution of small and big problems which would 
crop up from time to time. It was expected that he would 
spend most of his time in the State, particularly in the Valley, 
meeting Janata men, appreciating their difficulties and learning 
the viewpoints of individual members of the Committee. But 
one after the other expectation was belied and the Committee 
stood disillusioned. 

Finding to their dismay that Krishna Kant was in no hurry 



Incredible Bungling 


111 


to come to Kashmir and apply his talent and energy to fulfil 
the obligations of the observer in a befitting manner. Maulana 
Masoodi, seeking advice of his colleagues, prepared a memorial 
regarding requirements of the unit to contest elections, and 
forwarded the same with a personal letter, on May 18, to Party 
President, Chandra Shekhar, through a trusted lieutenant, 
Iftikhar Hussain Ansari. After stating party needs wliich were 
later on recognized even by the observer as quite modest the 
memorial concluded with these pregnant words : “The Ad Hoc 
Committee earnestly expects that in a week’s time these require- 
ments will be fulfilled as otherwise the movement is going to 
suffer heavily; our rivals in the field have geared up their 
organizational machineries and become extraordinarily active. 
They have many obvious advantages over us and it would 
damage our cause if for want of wherewithal we lag behind. 
Every day will make a difference and every hour in the struggle 
is precious and counts. Any avoidable delay will give a set- 
back to the Janata movement in the State; we stress that the 
stark reality should not be overlooked”. 

Neither the letter was acknowledged by Chandra Shekhar 
nor was any action taken on the memorial for many days. 
When Krishna Kant arrived for the first time on May 26 and 
Maulana enquired about the fate of the memorial, he expressed 
complete ignorance about it. Kant was given a copy and 
impressed with the desirability of getting the requirements 
fulfilled without further delay. He shuttled between Srinagar 
and New Delhi assuring the Maulana that action had been 
taken but nothing was actually done until June 11 when 
electioneering was in full swing and both National Conference 
and Congress had advanced a great deal leaving the Janata 
Party far behind. 

Eventually the requirements laid down in the memorial were 
substantially, though haltingly, met by the central office but 
every thing arrived in Kashmir too late when the time for its 
usefulness and utility had passed; the propaganda literature — 
posters, pamphlets, badges, streamers, placards, etc — came in 
huge bundles in the third week of June; most of them were in 
Hindi script unfit for use in the Valley. The jeeps which could 
have proved of imrhense help for travelling in the farflung and 



114 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


mountainous areas, and for doing propaganda and giving publi- 
city to Janata aims, arrived as late as June 24, only a week 
Ircforc the day of elections. It is no surprise that the State 
Janata leaders no less than the candidates felt disheartened and 
lost hope of success witnessing the hurricane tours and immensity 
of anti-Janata demonstrations conducted by their rivals. 

Abdullah fell ill on June 13. At the suggestion of Governor 
L.K. Jha, Union Ministers sent messages to the “sick” man 
expressing good wishes and prayers for restoration of his health. 
Prime Minister Morarji Desaiwas made to spare a few minutes 
out of his busy engagements in London to express his concern 
to the consternation of State Janata leadcis. 

It did not rest with the messages disconcerting as they 
were. Evidently, Governor Jha persuaded Army Chiefs that 
they too should do their bit in the “national” task. One after 
another two top-ranking generals met Begum Abdullah at her 
residence with bouquets of flowers paying obcsicncc to the , 
“ailing hero” not only on their behalf but also, “on behalf of 
rank and file of the armed forces”, as they put it. No wonder 
a stream of central and local officials besides Dr. Karan Singh 
accompained by his wife, Yashoraj Laxmi, Mohammad Yunus, 
a close associate of Indira Gandhi, and others followed. 
Hundreds of telegrams poured into the residence of the Sheikh. 

What more did the leaders of the National Conference need 
to further the ends of their electioneering by making it known 
that their hero was gasping on his death bed? For the first time 
in his public career after independence he had been deservedly 
neglected by the leaders of the Union Government which would 
have inevitably brought about his doom. The timely ruse of 
serious illness played with active support of Governor Jha had 
surely reinforced him and his party to the detriment of Janata 
and democratic elements. It was a tactful move and an earnest 
of the success to follow on the election day. 

The Ad Hoc Committee members were deeply perturbed at 
the tactical blunder of Prime Minister Morarji Desai and 
External Affairs Minister A.B. Vajpayee in having despatched 
ill-conceived messages to Sheikh when the Slate was in the 
midst of a crucial election and the National Conference, an 
unscrupulous rival party, would not fail to derive maximum 



V 


Incredible Bungling 115 

advantage out of them. Maulana Masoodi forthwith addressed 
strong protests to both the ministers on June 15 pointing out 
the adverse consequences that the messages despatched on 
humanitarian grounds were sure to result in weakening the 
position of the Janata in the State. 

It was curious and regrettable that while the two Ministers 
did not say a word in condemnation of the murderous attack 
made on three Janata leaders by National Conference hood- 
lums outside Sheikh’s house on June 13, nor did they dispatch 
any message of sympathy, not a day was lost in expressing and 
sending good wishes to Sheikh for early recovery. Beyond 
doubt it was a fatuous and untimely move on the part of the 
Union Ministers to which rightly objection was taken by 
Maulana Masoodi and liis colleagues. 

Maulana Masoodi also addressed a telegram on June 16 to 
Jagjivan Ram, Defence Minister, protesting against the un- 
called for action of the top-ranking Army generals who paid 
court to the “sick” man. 

In early June an election manifesto was prepared by the 
election committee. Besides elaborating Janata aims in fighting 
election, it effectively dealt with the points raised by rival parties, 
particularly the National Conference, to discredit the Ad Hoc 
Committee, It explained the historical significance of the Janata 
movement and objectives it had set up for the progress and 
happiness of the people in Jammu and Kashmir. In lucid, pre- 
cise but comprehensive terms the manifesto described the future 
programme and plan of the party. Since the National Confer- 
ence had issued its manifesto earlier on May 23, the importance 
of issuing Janata manifesto could not be exaggerated; there was 
a pressing demand for it from all the candidates whom the voters 
had been asking everywhere to let them know what the Janata 
Party intended to do if invested with power. The draft of the 
manifesto was scrutinized by every member of the election com- 
' mittee; alterations, amendments, deletions, and additions were 
effected to it at the instance of the members; it was finally 
passed and its two versions in English and Urdu were printed. 
When 15 thousand copies were ready for publication, Krishna 
Kant objected to its distribution without securing the permis- 
sion of the central election body. 



116 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


Krishna Kant took a copy of the election manifesto assuring 
to have it approved by Central Election Board. Not till the 
day of elections did the approval come, the reminders from 
Maulana notwithstanding. In desperation the publicity wing of 
Kashmir Janata distributed the printed copies of the manifesto 
but only when it was too late and of little use. It was the opinion 
of the candidates that had the manifesto been in the hands of 
voters only a fortnight earlier it would have made a difference 
in the outcome of the election. 

It was not an easy task for the election committee to choose 
candidates to contest on behalf of Janata. There W'as no dearth 
of applicants because the party still continued to carry weight 
and have importance in the eyes of the people. The committee 
had to consider a number of points to balance the demands of 
the Muslim and non-Muslim population in Kashmir and Jammu 
regions. It was a taxing, vexing and exasperating job, but after 
sitting continuously for five days and boldly confronting in- 
numerable issues raises inside and outside the committee, the 
task was successfully accomplished and a list of 74 names 
finalized. On June 2, Krishna Kant took it for getting approved 
by the Central Board, But, characteristically, he did not display 
any anxiety to hasten up; to him time was of no essence and the 
advance of rival parties of no consequence. He had reasons to 
feel dissatisfied with the nomination of candidates from Jammu 
region because some applicants known to hold extremist com- 
munal views had been dropped. Jan Sangh faction in the Central 
Janata leadership gave a hearing to some rejected candidates 
which caused delay in the approval of the list. 

Much had by now happened to make Maulana Masoodi 
unhappy, and as a last resort, he decided on June 1 5 to give 
vent to his feelings in two personal letters he addressed to 
Asoka Mehta and Moraiji Desai. “No body knows it better 
than you that due to my old age and ill health,” he wrote to 
the former, “I took up most reluctantly the onerous task of 
organizing the J&K Janata unit on the clear understanding that 
the Central Party will co-operate with mein every manner. To 
my dismay I find that the assistance 1 had expected to receive is 
not forthcoming and it is becoming increasingly difficult for me 
and my colleagues to shoulder the responsibility of successfully 



Incredible Bundling 


II7 


leading the Kashmir Unit”. The Maulana cnumcrafcd the 
problems facing him and his colleagues in the letter and con- 
cluded it by impressing upon Asoka Mehta the unenviable 
position in which he had been put by the three-man committee 
headed by him.^ 

In a similar communication. Maulana told Morarji that old 
age and ill-health forbade him to shoulder the responsibility of 
building up the Janata organization in the State and preparing 
the parly to contest the elections but “the persuasion of Shri 
Asoka Mehta and other friends became irrcsistable and 1 
yielded”. Regretting that “the co-operation (of the central 
party) is not forthcoming in the measure in which it was expec- 
ted” the Maulana demanded that requirements of the Ad Hoc 
Committee be fulfilled, election manifesto approved and the list of 
candidates p.isscd as it was adopted by the election committcc.2 
It is the measure of indifference and negligence on the part of 
central leadership that neither Asoka Mehta nor Morarji Dc.sai 
gave any reply to the Maulana. The Prime Minister, however, 
displayed uncommon and singular farsightedness in putting his 
foot down and insisting on acceptance of the list as prepared 
by the Kashmir Election Committee in its entirety. On June 18, 
he telephoned Maulana to apprise him of his decision. 

From June 19 to 27, Morarji Desai, and three Union 
Ministers — Choudhry Charan Singh, Jagjivan Ram and Sikandcr 
Bhakt — one after another, visited the State and delivered 
public speeches in various towns and the two cities of Jammu 
and Srinagar. Everywhere the gatherings were big. at times 
unknown to living memory, partly because of the personality 
of the speakers but mostly due to the fact that imagination of 
the people had been caught by the Janata objectives to demolish 
totalitarianism and dictatorship established by self-seeking poli- 
tical adventurers for three decades. People yearned for clean 
administration free of corruption and nepotism. In their candid, 
forceful and forthright speeches the ministers did not belie the 
hopes but only strengthened them. 

The Ad Hoc Committee of Kashmir region had talks with 

^Sec Appendix C. 

'Sec Appendix D. 



118 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


Home Minister Charan Singli on Jime 19, with Defence 
Minister Jagjivan Ram on Jtme 21, and with Prime Minister 
Morarji Desai on June 25. 

The Home Minister heard the Janata leaders one by one, 
noted the difiBculties they had to face and the suggestions they 
made to face them. Transfer of partisan officials and suppression 
of hooliganism were tlie main demands. Charan Singh agreed 
that the elections should be postponed by 10 days or so. His 
blunt replies to the National Conference delegation and Press 
correspondents on June 20 made a reassuring reading. 

When the Ad Hoc Committee members met Defence Minister 
Jagjivan Ram on June 21 in the evening, it was amazing 
to hear him confess that he did not know how' and why two 
generals of the Indian Army should have called upon Sheikh 
Abdullah to express concern at his illness. Jagjivan Ram was as 
profuse in giving assurances of removing the difficulties as 
Charan Singh. 

“Whatever complaints you may have,” assured Charan Singh 
addressing the public meeting on June 19, “about law and 
order problem and of police partisanship, will disappear from 
tomorrow”.^ Amidst thunderous applause in a huge crowd, 
Jagjivan Ram said Abdullah was a beloved leader but had 
become a heart patient. “You should pray for his long life, but 
also create conditions where it \vill become necessary for him 
to take rest. That you could easily do by denying your vote to 
him and enable the Janata Party to form government here”." 

In a statement on June 23 Abdullah termed the speeches of 
the ministers as “a dark and sinister conspiracy being hatched 
against him” and complained that “he was disappointed tliat 
during their visit no minister felt inclined to as mueh as call on, 
him ailing as he was”. He described the speeches as “hostile 
propaganda” and “a campaign of abuse, vilification, slander 
and character assassination”.^ Thereby completely identifying 
himself with the hooligans against whom the speeches of the 
ministers were mainly directed. 


^Statesman, June 20, 1977. 
^IhU., June 22, 1977. 

June 24. 1977. 



Incredible Bungling 


119 


The star performer of the Janata election show was Prime 
Minister Morarji Desai who arrived in the State on June 25. At 
his request the reception was simple. Even so, from the Srinagar 
airport he was taken in a procession through the main streets 
of the city to the Raj Bhawan at Chashma Shahi; the route was 
gorgeously decorated by arches and buntings displaying Janata 
slogans on numberless placards; cheering crowds waved to Desai 
a hearty welcome on both sides of the roads. 

Since ring leaders of ruffians had been thrown into prison 
and the show was held without Sheikh figuring in it and 
National Conference men sulking at home with their rivals 
having the field day, it must have been demoralizing to the 
leadership and disheartening for their followers. 

Morarji made an extensive tour of the Valley and addressed 
gatherings at Kupwara, Pattan, Baramulla, Shopian, Anantnag, 
Handwara, Bandipura and Srinagar. The main theme of his 
lectures was that the people of Kashmir should steal their will 
and determination to fight fear and domination.^ He said that 
all arrangements necessary for enabling the people to vote 
freely would be made. He assured that anyone trying to inter- 
fere in this process would be punished.^ 

Available members of the Ad Hoc Committee of Janata 
Party had a one and half hours meeting with Morarji Desai 
at Raj Bhawan on June 25. It started on a wrong note when 
Karra encouraged by the talk with the Home Minister 
Charan Singh, pleaded for postponement of election day. The 
Prime Minister was deadly opposed to it and displayed irrita- 
tion when Karra insisted on it. Thereafter the meeting did not 
go well. Though Desai repeatedly enquired about the difficul- 
ties he did not exercise patience to hear any member till be had 
finished. He would cut him short and inflict a lecture from his 
“vast and varied” experiences. Self-righteousness was his forte 
and it seemed that he was always right and did what was 
proper. He stuck tenaciously to his deep-rooted fads. When 
someone complained against the attitude of Governor Jha 
towards Kashmir Janata he replied with a glint of self-satisfac- 

^ Statesman, June 26, 1977. 

"Hindustan Times, June 26, 1977. 



120 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


tion: “Jha has worked as my secretary and I know he is 
thoroughly reliable”. There the matter, in his opinion, should 
end. Everyone was astounded to hear the Prime Minister 
-expressing ignorance about the attempted assassination of three 
Janata leaders outside Sheikh Abdullah’s house when a member 
asked Desai why he did not care to make a public statement 
over the incident denouncing the attack when he was so hasty 
in sending a message of sympathy from London to Abdullah 
who feigned illness. 

When his attention was drawn to the hostile propaganda 
spread by enemies that Janata is not secular but Hindu com- 
munalist in character, Morarji Desai boastfully said that long 
ago he had publicly confessed that he discarded janyow (sacred 
thread worn by upper caste men among Hindus) because he 
stood above the distinctions of creed and caste. How could then 
he or Janata be accused of communalism or of entertaining 
Hindu prejudices or any bias against Muslims? 

The misdeeds of Abdullah and his minions were being brought 
to the notice of the Prime Minister when he intervened to say 
that he knew the Sheikh thoroughly well from the early forties 
and there was no need to expatiate on the subject. He enter- 
tained no doubts that the Sheikh did not deserve the position to 
which he was raised. 

A.G. Lone and Iftikhar Hussain Ansari laid stress on the 
various difficulties and problems which Ad Hoc Committee had 
to encounter partly due to partisan administration and partly 
because the central leaders were sluggish in dealing with the 
requirements of the Kashmir Unit. Some outspoken remarks 
irritated Morarji who exclaimed : “We faced bigger problems 
and tougher difficulties when we were released after long incar- 
ceration in February last. Yet within weeks we could organise 
people all over the country and with their help demolish the 
totalitarian setup and successfully resurrect Indian democracy 
from the ashes. You should not hold others responsible for your 
oNvn weaknesses”. 

In his annoyance Morarji lost composure and removing the 
spotless white Gandhi cap from his head, mildly admonished 
the Ad Hoc Committee members for not drawing a lesson from 
the Janata Party's heroic struggle against heavy odds. Lone and 



Incredible BtmsVmg 


m 


Ansari, supported by colleagues, tried to rebut the charge point- 
ing out the difTcrence in the two eases but were silenced and had 
to leave the rejoinder unfinished. Even Maulana Masoodi’s 
soft and inoffensive words grated on Prime Minister’s ears. Yet, 
amusingly enough, Morarji repeatedly stressed that he wanted 
to know the difilcultics that the Kashmir Party fated and he 
•was prepared to remove them. 

Morarji, however, softened towards the end and conceded 
certain points; The State government should deal unsparingly 
Avith goondaism; those officials who lack sense of re.sponsibility 
should be removed from key-posts and partisan officers should 
be suspended and punished. When some of the government 
functionaries were named in the meeting as backing the National 
Conference the Prime Minister assured the Committee that 
immediate action would betaken against them. 

On June 27 in the morning when we went to bid liim good- 
bye, Morarji informed me that a delegation of Pandits had 
Waited on him and complained bitterly against my ideas and 
activities. I explained that it was because I had done more than 
throw away my sacred thread to get myself rid of religious and 
caste prejudices. He did not catch the significance of what I 
said. He was in a hurry as usual. The Maulana who accom- 
panied him to the helipad later told me that Morarji was much 
exercised by the political philosophy I propounded. "I do not 
consider a communist as harmful as an atheist,” the Prime 
Minister was reported to have held. 

Mercifully neither the Prime Minister nor anyone of his other 
three colleagues called at Abdullah’s residence for which the 
“sick” man made a grievance in a letter to Morarji. But even 
a greater blow was dealt at the National Conference dictator. 
Unexpectedly, Morarji Desai, without consulting Ad Hoc Com- 
mittee or even Maulana Masoodi, accepted an invitation to a 
dinner at Mirwaiz’s residence on June 26. The staff correspon- 
dent of the Times o/Zud/n reported ; “The dinner engagement of 
the Prime Minister, Mr. Morarji Desai, with Mirwaiz Maulvi 
Farooq, chairman of the Awami Action Committee, which has 
extended full snpport to the Janata Party in the coming elections, 
has provoked strong protest by the National Conference. Mr. 
Ghulam Mohiuddin Shah, led a deputation to the Governor 



Incredible Bungling 


123 


Since no drastic action was taken against anyone of the errant 
ofiicials and since Governor Jim and Adviser Banerji were 
lenient towards the partisans of the Sheikh and hoodlum bands 
of the National Conference, terror rc-errupted with redoubled 
force from the evening of June 2S. 

A. mass procession was brought otil by Janata supporters on 
June 30 to counteract and remove fear from the minds of the 
voters. It ended at Polo Ground where no less than fifty thousand 
people gathered to hear Maulana Mnsoodi and Minvaiz Farooq. 
Obscr\'cr Krishna Kant, who accomp;inicd the procession was 
also present. The procession and the meeting passed ofif peace- 
fully and was successful in achieving its objective. 

But the next day the National Conference to offset its clTccls, 
brought out a procession from Mujahid Manzil; it consisted 
hardly of fifteen thousand persons, but true to the party charac- 
ter, the processionists on their way to Gandhi Grounds, attacked 
Janata offices, hauled down its flags and buntings, and manhand- 
led Janata men and workers wherever they encountered them. 
It served a green signal to ruffirms to openly come out and 
regenerate the atmosphere of terror. 



13 


Black July Three : the Day 
of Terror 


‘^During the election the polling booths were not properly 
guarded. Instances of capturing polling booths have been con- 
firmed.” 

Sunday, Calcutta, July 24, 1977. 

T he elections to the State Legislative Assembly were schedu- 
led to be held on two days: In the Jammu region on June 30, 
and in the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh on July 3. 

As a reaction to the outspoken and rabid Muslim communa- 
h'sm of National Conference, Hindus in Jammu region were 
deeply agitated which helped extremists among Jan Sanghis 
to become popular. Eleven such members of the Janata Party 
in the region who had been refused tickets rebelled and contested 
as independents. Reports were received of sabotage and 
collusion of a number of Janata workers with Congress which 
Was deplorable. But on the whole the polls on June 30 were 
peaceful all over the region except in the hilly districts of 
Rajouri and Doda where Muslims are in majority and National 
Conference was able to exert pressure through appeal to reli- 
gious passion and intimidation. Janata candidates from these 
areas sent telegrams and made phone calls imploring authori- 



Black July Three : the Day of Terror 


125 


tics and Janata leadershisp to intervene but to their dismay no 
relief could be rendered. 

Polling in Kashmir Valley and Ladakh on July 3 was anything 
but peaceful, taiven below is a detailed account of the incidents 
on the polling day as recorded in my persona! diary ; 


S.OO A.M. 


8.30 A.M. 


9.00 A.M. 


9,10 A.M. 
9.15 A.M, 

9.17 A.M. 


Jnn.ata ofltcc has opened earlier today and many of 
the workers arc present. .Sky is overcast with clouds 
and it has begun to rain, but groups of people arc 
reported to h.ave come out and arc flocking towards 
polling booths. We .sit glued to the two teleplronc.s 
in the ofiicc and note down the reports ns they 
come in. 

Reports have .started trickling in that strong-arm 
men of National Conference have already captured 
some polling booths. Accompanied by six collea- 
gues. Sheikh Ali Mohammad, our candidate in 
Maharaj Gatij constituency, has come to s.ay that 
at .Aishan Sahib. Naiihata anti Khan.nqahi Moula 
Iris agents Iravc been forcibly turned out with the 
connivance of the polling ofliccrs. 

A.R, Knbli came with four workers who were 
attacked, one of them injured in the face by a stone 
(which was produced); they reported capture of a 
number ofbooths in Idgah constituency by rufllans 
equipped with knives, daggers and lathis threaten- 
ing Janata men to vote at peril to life. Kabli says 
Anwar Salim’s condition in Zadibal is worse. 

Stone throwing on voters opposed to National 
Conference in Kralapora andChadoora. 

National Conference workers headed by Khaliq 
Khan attacked Chbatabal and Baralhana booths. 
At Khangroo, Hamambal, Anzimar and Radaporc, 
National Conference workers attacked Janata men 
and turned them out and captured the booths. 
Presiding tmd polling ofiTiccrs assisted National Con- 
ference workers to capture booths at Lar, Rcporc 
Barsu and Dagaporc, allowing them to do as 



126 Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 

they like. Janata agents have been turned out. 
Police did not help. 

9.20 A.M. Booths at Veterinary Office, Abi Guzar, Maisuma 
and Dubji have been attacked by National Confe- 
rence workers some of whom were women. Ghulam 
Hassan Kirmani, Deputy Superintendent of Police, 
is alleged to be encouraging hooliganism in Habba 
Kadal constituency at Zaindar Mohalla and 
Tankipora. 

9.25 A.M. An organized band of volunteers of National Con- 
ference threatens Janata voters in Maisuma not to . 
vote and stay inside homes. 

9.35 A.M. Janata agents are harassed at Kawdara and Shalla 
Mohalla by National Conference toughs while the 
Police look on passively. 

Masoodi contacted Governor Jha and told him 
that capture of booths was going on as anticipated 
by us. He reported the various incidents which have 
been brought to our notice and requested him to 
stop lawlessness. The Governor promised to took 
into the matter immediately. 

9.37 A.M. From Ganderbal, Ali Mohammad Tariq telephones 
that goondas have captured booths at Haran, 
Theor, Lar, Repore and Kurhama; presiding officers 
are personally stamping ballot papers in place of 
voters and has finished them all by 9.30 A.M. 

9.50 A.M. Janata agents at octroi post Ram Bagh booth hara- 
ssed and disallowed to function, 

9.54 A.M. Arwat booth at Fateh Kadal dominated by National 

Conference workers. 

9.55 A.M. Bricks are thrown by National Conference hooli- 

gans at Said Kadal and Suthra Shahi mohalla 
booths. 

9.57 A.M. Pacha, Ontoo and Peer arc said to have captured 
Majahid Manzil booth and barred entry of every 
voter suspected of Janata sympathy. 

At Mujahid Manzil booth Janata women voters 
were molested and their hair pulled out for intend- 
ing to vote Janata. 



Black July Three : ihe Day of Terror 127 

9.58 A.M. Yacchapura, Dangarpura (Zadibal) booths captured 
by National Conference workers: Arwat (Fateh 
Kadal) booth also falls. Janata agents beaten and 
ousted from both places. No policemen found on 
duty. 

10.00 A.M. Booths at Motiyar Central school, government 
girls school, Rangparistan, government girls school 
Jogilankarand government boys high school, Rain- 
awari, have been captured after Janata agents 
were beaten and turned out notwithstanding the 
protest of presiding officer and policemen who 
appeared helpless and ineffective. 

10. 10 A.M. Government College Nawakadal; four Janata agents 
forced by hooligans under threat of violence to 
leave; appeal to presiding officer goes in vain; poli- 
cemen present expressed helplessness. 

10.12 A.M. Qalandcrpura Muslim girls high school: There being 
no security arrangements Janata workers are unable 
to function and Janata men afraid to vote. 

10.25 A.M. No policeman at Sri Bhatt Spinning Mills polling 
booth to ensure protection to voters. National 
Conference hoodlums have a field day to do as they 
like. 

10.30 A.M. Reports have now begun to come from muffasil 
about irregularities in polling. Janata workers 
have come personally from Khrew, Char and 
Ludow to say that presiding officers in league with 
National Conference workers are rigging elections. 
Men whether eligible to vote or not are brought in 
trucks and made to stamp ballot papers. 

Ten Janata workers badly beaten and bruised 
at S.P. College booth come to the Janata office; 
one of them Ghulam Mohammad Zaindari with his 
clothes drenched in blood. By coincidence the 
representative of Reuters also dropped in and saw 
the victim of thrashing and asked him a few 
questions. 

10.53 A.M. At Namchabal (Malik Angan) Janata agents have 
been physically thrown out and booths A, B and C 



128 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


11.10A.M. 

11.14 A.M. 

11.20 A.M. 

11.33 A.M. 

11.50 A.M. 

12.35 P.M. 

12.50 P.M. 

1.10 P.M. 

1.18 P.M. 


captured; impersonation goes on apace; spurious 
votes are being cast in presence of presiding officers 
and police at Doompora, Basant Bagh. 

Janata agents were turned out from Sharda 
Peeth and Raghunath Mandir booths. 

Mufti Basheer Ahmad says that at Aqil Mir, 
Khanyar, a ladder has been placed at the back of 
the polling booth to let in men to cast votes. 
Impersonation goes on on a large scale. 

At Chhatabal duplicate voting papers have been 
detected at a booth. D.S.P. Mohammad Shaffi was 
informed about it but took no action. 

In Anantnag National Conference leaders offered 
Rs. 15 per voter, but Janata men are steadfast in 
their resolve to cast votes for Janata. 

K.L. Kaul reports from Barammulla that there has 
been no clash or intimidation so far and the work 
of voting is proceeding on peacefully. 

A beaten and ousted Janata agent reported that 
at polling booths at Nowhatta Government High 
School, Rang Hammam and Roshan Bagh, Janata 
agents were driven out by force. The goondas were 
armed with knives. Two other booths at Malik 
Saliib and Jabgari Mohalla were also attacked. 
Ghassa, who was arrested but released has terrori- 
zed voters at Abi Guzar. He was assisted by 
policemen and therefore Janata men desisted from 
casting votes out of fear. 

At Tel Bal in Hazaratbal constituency Janata, agent 
was beaten and prevented from discharging his 
duty. 

Janata candidate Anwar Salim was attacked and 
manhandled at Aqal Mir booth in Zadibal cons- 
tituency. 

In Vicharnag booth (Zadibal constituency) goon- 
das smashed a jeep and damaged a car; Janata 
worker was attacked with knives and acid was 
thrown at him. 

G.N. Untoo reports from Soporc that he has, 



Black July Three : the Day of Terror 


12? 


besides making a round in Sopore, visited booths 
at Bandipur and Sangrama constituency. The 
work is going on well and satisfactorily. He is 
■ optimistic about the success of Janata at Sangrama. 

Agitated people come to the office telling tales 
of beatings and strong-arm deeds of National 
Conference workers connived at by presiding and 
polling officers together with policemen. We feel 
these statements are a bit exaggerated if not 
groundless. But when one after another injured 
men and women are brought in we make repeated 
attempts to contact Governor Jha, Adviser Satar- 
wala, Inspector General Shah and whoever else we 
can find for prevention of lawlessness and violence. 
None is available; Police Control Room is equally 
of little help. The man in charge perfunctorily 
says : “action is being taken and a posse of police 
has been despatched to the spot.” 

1.20 P.M. Mohammad Usman reports from Lavaipura 
(Ganderbal) that National Conference and Janata 
are present everywhere in force and skirmishes are 
taking, place. But National Conference hoodlums 
are mounting attack from Suzet Gouripura. 

Scores of voters come to report that when 
they went to cast their votes they were told their 
votes had already been cast. A number of ladies 
were among the complainants. 

Hakim Mohiddin reports that he went perso- 
nally to Rehbab Sahib and Jamalata booths and 
found that conditions were such which made impo- 
ssible for any Janata man or woman to vote. 

1.40 P.M. In Abi Guzar National Conference workers attac- 
ked and injured Karra’s daughter. She had to 
seek C.R.P. help because Kashmir police refused 
to intervene. Buland had just visited Akhara and 
Maisuma booths which are undefended and open 
to hooligans, 

2.00 P.M.. At Suwra booth, Nooruddin Pandit and one of his 



130 

2. 15 P.M. 

2.50 P.M. 

3.00 P.M. 

3.50 P.M. 

4.00 P.M. 

4.15 P.M. 


Democracy through IiUimidation and Terror 

colleagues have been attacked and injured while 
passing by in a jeep. 

Daulatabad High School was captured by N.C. 
workers. Reports of impersonation and casting 
of false votes came every minute. No responsible 
man from Chief Electoral Officer’s office responded 
to our calls. 

The bootli at Urdu Bazar (Mujahid Manzil) was 
captured by N.C. workers. The Janata agent was 
threatened to go away if he valued his life. After 
some resistence he jumped from second storey of 
the building to save himself. The police took into 
custody Mohammad Farooq, a Janata worker, for 
objecting to the highhandedness of N.C. workers 
headed by Pacha. No Janata man therefore came 
forward to cast vote. 

At Malchamar (Ali Kadal) booth an employee of 
food control department found working as the 
agent of N. C. candidate. 

The Janata agent at Mujagund found missing and 
the booth was captured by National Conference 
men. 

At the booths, at National High School Nara- 
singhgarh, and mrmicipal conunittee in Habba 
Kadal constituency, tlie same N.C. men. cast 
vote a number of times because the ink marks on 
their fingers supposed to be indelible, have been 
washed off. 

Congressmen led by hooligans attacked Janata 
candidate in Leh, made attempts at his life and 
his jeep was smashed. 

At Malik Angan and Namachabal booths Janata 
voters Were attacked; clothes of Pandit women 
were ripped because they wanted to vote for 
Janata. 

Thousands of Pandit voters, arc said to h.ave 
gone back to their homes without voting. 

The goondas equipped with lathis came, tutned 
out Janata agents at Gandcrbal and captured 



Black July Three : the Day of Terror 


131 


ballot-papers and cast them as they liked after 
making entries. Telegrams were sent to Governor 
and Election Commissioner protesting against 
rowdyism and demanding repoll. 

4.40 P.M. Some parties of observers sent out to visit polling 
booths returned and reported that though there is 
no doubt rowdyism having taken place on a wide 
scale in the city at many booths, there has been, 
nevertheless, good polling and Janata men and 
women in large numbers have cast their votes. 

4.45 P.M. While on the one hand both the telephones are 
ringing constantly and diverse complaints are heard 
from angry candidates from far and near constitu- 
encies, on the other, uncontrollable crowds pour 
into tlie office giving details of irregularities, vio- 
lence and hooliganism of National Conference 
workers. But Janata leaders have not lost hope; 
they still believe that numberless men and women 
despite terror spread by National Conference have 
valiantly cast votes at the polls. 

When the time for casting votes was over, all candidates 
from Srinagar district and their chief agents and, later in the 
evening, many others from the countryside dropped into the 
Janata office accompanied by large crowds to narrate their 
woeful stories. There was nothing new in their statements which 
was not already known to everyone of us during the day. One 
thing, however, was notable and common: the polling officers 
had refused to record the irregularities Committed at the booths 
when requested to do so and even declined to receive complaints 
made in writing by the affected candidates. Many of the Janata 
candidates and their agents saw no alternative but to boycott 
the election process and leave polling booths in protest. 

There were 2470 polling booths district-wise thus divided : 
740 in Baramulla district, 142 in Srinagar district, 730 in 
Anantnag district and 220 in Ladakh district. Some of the 
booths were in far-flung areas of Gurez and Karnah. 

It was no easy job to keep under control the rowdyism which’ 
had raised its ugly head during the month of June due to the 



132 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


religious frenzy and anti-India passions excited by the National 
Conference leaders. Elaborate arrangements were therefore 
called for to make the elections fair and free. But no effective 
measures were taken. Satarwala assured that sufficient police 
force including 16000 men of C.R.P, had been imported from 
neighbouring states and kept in reserve to meet any emergency 
and every booth would be protected and voters ensured freedom 
while casting their votes. As a matter of fact, only 1400 police- 
men were on duty and almost all of them belonged to Kashmir 
force; the few C.R.P. men who were posted at some booths 
were ineffective because they were subordinated to Kashmir 
police officers. A number of C.R.P. men admitted there was 
hooliganism and even felt annoyed and distressed at the highhan- 
dedness of National Conference workers, but expressed their 
inability to interfere in defiance of Kashmir officers. 

Why the C. R. P. was not deployed in full force in Srinagar 
and other places where disturbances were apprehended as Satar- 
wala had assured the Government intended to do, will for 
ever remain a mystery. Probably it did not suit the scheme of 
Governor Jha who wanted to curry favour with the National 
Conference by employing pro-Abdullah Kashmir policemen 
to ensure defeat of the Janata Party. When questioned Satar- 
wala only fumbled and could give no satisfactory reply why the 
services of C.R.P. men who had been brought in large numbers 
from outside were not utilized to control hooligan and lawless 
elements. 

Next day, July 4, counting of votes started in all the consti- 
tuencies throughout the State, Reports began to pour in on the 
telephone and by telegrams from candidates and trustworthy 
workers about the happenings at the polling booths and during 
the night ; some imburdened themselves calmly but most of the 
informants were excited and in distress, full of anger. It was 
clear that what had been learned was only the tip of the iceberg 
most of it had remained under water to be gradually discovered. 

From the hooliganism and irregularities which were in 
e\idcncc at the hustings on July 3, the results of the elections 
were a foregone conclusion. Yet it was believed that Janata 
would be able to win round about 15 seats in the Valley. But 
when the results started to come in, Janata leaders felt staggered. 



Black July Three : the Day of Terror 


133 


As if by some preconceived plan the failures of llicir big guns 
came first. Iftikhar fell, so did Karra and Dr. Majid; and then 
continuously the names of National Conference candidates were 
declared elected by the Kashmir Hadio, The telephone rang 
from dificrent places every minute conveying reports of candi- 
dates about the numerous irregularities which had been comm- 
ted : broken seals of ballot boxes; ballot papers folded in lots 
found in the boxes: more ballot papers than the number of 
voters at certain booths : invalid votes credited to National 
Conference candid.atcs etc. Everywhere the presiding officers 
refused to record the irregularities or even acknowledge in 
writing applications of candidates stating these facts. Many 
candidates thereupon withdrew from the counting table and let 
the presiding ofilccrs and the N.C. leaders do as they liked. 

As the failure of Janata candidates and the success of N.C. 
candidatc.s were announced on the Kashmir Radio there was 
panic in the ranks of Janata supporters. Frantic calls were made 
that they were in the imminent danger of being attacked by 
jubilant hoodlums; their houses and .shops were being pelted with 
boulders, Janata office rang up every authority to come to the 
rescue of the victims but nobody eared to hear the distress calls. 
We tried to contact ministers and Janata leaders in New Delhi 
to gel law and order restored but to no purpose. 

A few days later, Sonant Gyalsan accompanied by Kushak 
Tugdan and Ghulam Rasul Bhat ctuttc from Ladakh to narrate 
the sad talc of rowdyism, partisanship of administration and 
suppression of his colleagues. It was nothing different from what 
took place in the Valley. Gyalsan is a law graduate and one of 
the small band of educated Buddhists. He docs not exaggerate, 
is gentle, fearless, devoted and unassuming. In the assembly 
election he was opposed by Sonam Narbu who had served as 
a minister in Abdullah's cabinet. 

Because National Conference is very unpopular among the 
Buddhists, Narbu dared not stand on its ticket. Having 
secretly made a pact with Abdullah he fraudulently contested on 
Congress mandate. He was openly supported by government 
officials and hired goondas. Gyalsan was thwarted at every 
step, even kidnapped and held in unlawful custody for a night 
on the eve of elections. Notorious among the officers opposing 



134 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


Gyalsan was Akhbar Ladakhi who though posted eleswhere 
and supposed to be on duty, defied orders, came lo Leh and 
actively canvassed for Narbu who firmly assured the oflBcials' 
and hooligans that no one can touch them because he was sure 
to be back in ofiice. Elected to the Assembly, Narbu did not 
lose a day to change sides. He defected from the Congress, 
joined the National Conference and is now again in Abdullah’s 
cabinet. 

From July 5, a new and most painful phase of politics opened 
in the Valley. V/hen it was announced that the National Con- 
ference had captured majority of seats in the Assembly, groups 
of rowdies armed with bbulders, bricks, lathis, catapults and 
other missiles went round the city and towns attacking homes of 
defeated Janata candidates and other leaders. There was no Janata 
office which was left in peace; their flags, signboards, furniture 
and records were destroyed or consigned to fire on the roadside; 
property was damaged, anyone suspected of Janata leanings 
mobbed and injured. Under cover of merry-making and victory 
parade National Conference hoodlums by the hundred went 
from mohalla to mohalla seeking houses of Janata workers to 
break their windows and doors or whatever they could lay their 
hands on; policemen stood by watching lawlessness without 
even trying to prevent the so-called merry-makers from resorting 
to violent deeds. The officials sat in their offices unperturbed 
and imperturbable. The appeals for speedy measures to handle 
the situation brought no response. The Divisional Commissioner 
assured that under section 144 Cr. P.C. orders had been issued 
to control hooliganism wherever it appeared; but the merry- 
makers ignored the orders and not a single ruffian was brought 
to book. There was virtual anarchy in the Valley; shops were 
broken open and looted, houses damaged and many people 
whose lives were threatened had to leave their hearth and home 
to take shelter in safer areas, in schools or in the homes of their 
friends. 

In the country'side the National Conference hooligans destroy- 
ed the crops in the fields of peasants who voted for Janata. 
According to the correspondent of the daily Khidmat, official 
organ of the Congress Party, “in Nowgam Khlatar barn 



Black July Three : the Day of Terror 135 

ofGhulam Rasool Hakim containing oilseeds was burned; fruit 
trees in his garden were cut down”. When asked why-lie jdid 
not report it to the police Hakim retorted that “the police being 
partisan it was useless to do so”. The correspondent slated that 
a high school head master and an employee of home guard 
participated in the criminal activity. 

Jn Magreypura irrigation water link was cut off to the land 
of Sona Nayak wJiich dried his growing paddy. In the same 
village the corn crop of Aziz Magrcy was devastated. Imams 
and maulvis who voted or worked for Janata were ostricized 
and boycotted.^ In Naru village of Chadoora constituency the 
house of Mohammad Shaban Dar, a Janata enthusiast, was 
consigned to fire. 

In a lengthy editorial on July 7, the Khklmat bemoaned that 
“after the announcement of the election results the Kashmir 
administration has been paralysed and activities of lawlessness 
and anarchy arc witnessed on a very wide scale”. The corres- 
pondent of the Sunday (Calcutta), usually backing National 
Conference, reported on July 24, 1977: “The reign of terror 
unleashed by the National Conference workers after their 
victory, which went on unabated for three days, made life 
miserable for Kashmir Pandits; homes of Shias and Bakaras 
were stoned and set on fire, women were molested. . .and life 
came to a standstill in areas where Janata voters lived. For three 
days Bakaras and Kashmiri Pandits kept their doors locked 
living in terror while gooiidas rampaged through their mohalles”. 
The pro-Abdullah correspondent of Hindustan Times wrote : 
“Admittedly there were cases of hooliganism in tlie wake of 
the National Conference election victory”. 

Not being able to move freely members of Ad Hoc Committee 
could not meet in full strength to take stock of the situation. 
However, consulting those who were at hand a statement was 
prepared and issued on behalf of the Committee on July 5. In 
it “the Jammu and Kashmir .Tanata Party refused to concede 
victory to the National Conference on the ground that the 
party won through intimidation, terror and rigging.” The state- 
ment reminded that anticipating unfair practices by National 


^Khidmat, Srinagar, July 14, 1977. 



136 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


Conference the Janata Party had asked Governor Jha to take 
steps to ensure free and fair elections but without success, 
“The administration had been imable to curb lawlessness and 
hooliganism let loose on a wide scale after the announcement 
of election results”. The statement concluded by saying that 
Ad Hoc Committee would meet shortly to consider the steps to 
be taken “to restore democratic practices and the political 
rights of the people”. 

When lawlessness and criminal activities of National Con- 
ference workers did not abate but went on mounting day after 
day, it was decided, on July 7, to send a delegation to New Delhi 
to apprise the Central Janata leadership and Government of 
India of the horrifying developments which the incredible bungl- 
ing of the Union Government had given rise to. I was a member 
of the delegation specially assigned to let the national Press 
know the real situation in the State. 

In New' Delhi the members of the delegation met central 
party leadership and the Union Ministers apprising them of the 
deteriorated political situation in the Valley. Statements were 
issued giving facts and figures about the developments in the 
State. 

The National Press was responsive and wide publicity was 
given to what the members of the delegation said : “Mr. Prem 
Nath Bazaz, spokesman of the Jammu and Kashmir unit of the 
Janata Party,” reported the Times of India on July 14, “has called 
for appointment of a high powered commission to inquire into 
the ‘violent tactics’ and ‘malpractices’ indulged in by National 
Conference workers and supporters to win the recent assembly 
poll. He has alleged that there was large scale intimidation of 
Janata supporters in the valley”. The report went on to say, 
“Mr. Bazaz charged Sheikh Abdullah w'ith having not only 
tried to whip up passions among Muslims on communal grounds 
but also with having revived the almost forgotten slogan of 
plebiscite to mobilize support for his party”. “Mr. Bazaz said 
that though innumerable cases of goondaism w'cre brought to 
the notice of the Governor, Mr. L.K. Jha, no effective steps 
were taken to maintain law' and order”. 

The Indian Express said on July 14 : “Mr, Bazaz says there 
was a serious challenge to the ‘monopolistic leadership’ of 



Black July Three : the Day of Terror 


137 


Sheikli Abdullah from secular minded sections, most of whom 
comprised Muslims. . .He (Sheikh) was widely blamed for 
nepotism, corruption and misuse of power. . .Mr. Bazaz alleged 
that the Sheikh had inflamed Shia-Sunni, Hindu-Muslim and 
Sher-Bakara (Supporters of Sheikh and Maulvi Farooq) 
animosity. The Sheikh had said that the Janata was Jan Sangh 
in new grab.” 

The Indian Express report added : “Mr. Bazaz who was a 
close associate of Sheikh Abdullah when they started their 
political careers in the thirties, even said that Sheikh Abdullah 
bad feigned illness”. 

On July 5, a startling incident took place which opened the 
eyes of people inside and outside the Valley. Sheikli Abdullali, 
certain of his return to power, threw away the mask of crippl- 
ing ailment, jumped out of sick-bed, hale and hearty. Rising 
as suddenly as he had fallen gravely ill on June 13 when formid- 
able opposition depressed him, he shed crocodile tears at the 
victims of his hooligan gangs. Acknowledging greetings of his 
supporters who started collecting outside his residence as news 
of the party victory spread, he asked them still in muffled 
voice to be magnanimous. The man who was reported unable 
to move out of his room came in a car next day to the Polo 
Ground where he addressed a gathering of frenzied thousands. 
And, lo and behold, he was by grace of God restored to health 
overnight. A couple of days later he, along with Afzal Beg, 
took oath of oflicc at Raj Bhavan. On July 11, addressing for 
over 100 minutes the secretaries tothe Government, he stressed 
the need “for maintaining peace and said that after the election 
people from all walks of hTe should return to their normal 
routine of life”. But the activities of the Kashmir Janata leaders 
in Delhi upset him. “I am the acknowledged leader of the over- 
whelming majority of the people here”, he claimed on July 14. 
“The centre has to deal with me”. He praised Prime Minister 
Morarji Desai and Janata Party President Chandra Shekhar 
for their farsight in having recognized the victory of the 
National Conference at the polls. But the violence continued 
unabated. 

The staff correspondent of the Times of India reported on 



]38 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


July 16 ; “In a rejoinder to Sheikh's statement on Janata Party 
v/orkers campaign against his government, Mr. Bazaz says, 
hooligans are still active and people, especially those who work- 
ed or voted for Janata Parly in the election arc being harassed”.^ 
“Mr. Bazaz has issued a list of 22 Janata Party offices attacked 
or captured, 53 shops looted or shut down and 85 families who 
were forced to take shelter in safe localities”. The Times of 
India published photographs of looted shops ^vith policemen 
on guard. 

“Over two lakh people voted for the Janata Party in the 
valley. Scores of Janata offices functioned in the 42 constituen- 
cies before the election, but none of these is allowed to exist 
now”, Bazaz points out. “The Janata Party spokesman feels 
that National Conference leaders either do not mean v/hat 
they say or they are unable to control the activities of their 
workers. Sheikh Abdullah thinks that if he praises the central 
Janata leadership, particularly the Prime Minister Mr. Morarji 
Desai, the miseries of the Kashmiris will not be taken notice of 
and full support will be extended to bis government”. 

Another national daily the Indian Express reported, “Mr. Bazaz 
has again urged the Union Government to order an enquiry into 
the ‘gruesome happenings’ in the valley over the past month 
and take steps immediately to “restore the confidence of the 
people”.” 

The well conducted activities of Kashmir delegation and the 
wide publicity which was given to the yet unknown facts and 
figures about ttie happenings in Kashmir, produced the desired 
effect in proper quarters. The Janata leaders woke up and 
realized the gravity of the growing menace. 

It was amazing to hear how ill informed the Indian Govern- 
ment and the leaders in Jantar Mantar Road office were about 
Kashmir affairs. Being heavily pre-occupied with the various 
problems in the rest of the country they had practically left 
Kashmir to its fate. With undue haste they had committed 
themselves to a certain course of action from which they did 
not know how to wriggle out even if they had the least desire 

’For full texts of the author’s presss tatements see Appendix F. 

^Indian Express, July 17, 1977. 



Black July Three : the Day of Terror 


139 


or inclination to help the victimized. Nevertheless, they 
could no longer overlook the Kashmir disaster that now stared 
them in the face. Expressing the outraged feelings of the 
Janata leadership, Ramakrishna Hegde, general secretary of 
the Janata Party, warned Abdullah in a press statement on 
July 15, “to create such conditions in the state that the Janata 
Party and other democratic opposition parties can carry on 
their normal political activities freely and fearlessly”. 

Mr. Hegde said : “Innumerable instances of violence and 
goondaism against our workers and against our offices by the 
so called workers of the National Conference immediately 
prior to, during and after the recent election have been and 
are being reported in the newspapers and to us almost daily. 
No Janata Party flag can fly anywhere in the Valley as that 
would further endanger the lives and property of those inhabit- 
ing the area where such flag is hoisted. The police and the 
administration in the Valley have been accomplices in all such 
incidents”. 

Referring to Abdullah’s statement, Hegde commented : “The 
whole tenor of statement seems to be to threaten our party out 
of existence in Jammu and Kashmir and to warn the central 
leaders of our party of dire consequences if they dared to help 
out our workers being persecuted in more than one way in the 
Valley”. Hegde detected a veiled threat of cession in Abdullah’s 
statement.^ 


^Statesman, July 16, 1977. 



14 

Pledges Unredeemed 


CCT shall do everything within my power,” assured Governor 

-A- Jha after he had ordered the dissolution of the Jammu 
and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, in a broadcast from Kashmir 
Radio on April 11, “to ensure that the people are able to exer- 
cise their right of franchise freely and fearlessly”. Emphasising • 
the need to have impartial polls for the first time after indepen- 
dence, he said : “It will be our endeavour to deploy officers of 
integrity in the electoral processes. Strict instructions have 
been given to all concerned to provide the fullest protection to 
all political parties and individuals to carry on their legitimate 
activities. Action without fear or favour will be taken against 
those elements which take recourse to lawlessness”. Obviously 
aware of the hooliganism which characterized the Lok Sabha 
elections a month earlier, the Governor added : “Stone tlirowing 
and other acts of hooliganism will be put down with a 
firm hand”. 

These were unambiguous pledges heartening to all democratic 
and freedom-loving sections among the State people and they 
welcomed them. To be sure such assurances had been given on 
every occasion in the past whenever elections were held but they 
were invariably honoured in breach. What lent importance to 
the Governor’s words was the phenomenal success of Janata 
opposition in which Congress dictatorship was routed in Lok 



Pledges Unredeemed 


141 


Sablia elections. The State people believed that the time had 
arrived when they too could overthrow the totalitarianism of 
the Congress and National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir 
through free choice of their representatives in fresh elections to 
the Assembly. 

As we have seen an uprccedcnted enthusiasm was witnessed 
among the people in support of the Janata Unit. But the 
more strength democratic elements gained the greater 
became the ferocity of the National Conference rowdyism. 
Therefore, the misgivings of the fighters for free poll 
could not be set at rest and lingered on and were expressed 
every now and then about the ability and willingness of 
the administration to make the election genuinely peaceful 
and fair. The two advisers of the Governor, S. Banerji and 
K.T. Satarwala, particularly the latter who was in charge of 
supervising the electoral processes and the state election machi- 
nery, frequently and with greater emphasis repeated the pledges 
given by the head of the State. 

Nevertheless, the violence spread and peace-loving people 
cherishing hopes raised in them, were alarmed. In an outspoken 
article captioned “Violence in Kashmir Valley”, Girilal Jain, 
editor of Times of India, described the situation and gave 
expression to the feelings of the democratic opposition in the 
State. He said that the Government of India “cannot seriously 
dispute that it has allowed the situation to deteriorate to a 
dangerous point and it cannot disown responsibility for this 
because the State happens to be under President’s rule”. 

Referring to the rowdyism of National Conference, Jain 
observed : “The leaders of the National Conference could have 
restrained their men if they had chosen to do so and thereby 
helped create an atmosphere in which fair and free elections 
could have been held. But they have not chosen to do so. 
The charge that they have.placed fairly large funds at the dis- 
posal of anti-social elements may not be wholly or even partly 
accurate. But it cannot be seriously denied that they have 
acquiesced in their activities. Thus a pall of fear hangs over the 
Valley”. 

After making a detailed survey of the events and develop- 
ments in the Valley in June, Jain observed : “Surely it will be 



142 . Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 

absurd for anyone to suggest that anything like a fair and free 
election can be held in such an atmosphere”. He was of the 
opinion that “only a strong central presence can create such an 
atmosphere”. 

The plain speaking of Girilal Jain and others lashed the 
conscience of Janata rulers in New Delhi. They realized that 
they should declare their intention in clear terms to assure 
the State people of a fair deal in the election. This they did 
while on electioneering tour of the State in the second half of 
June. On June 19, Home Minister Charan Singh addressing a 
public meeting in Srinagar announced that “goondaism would 
not be tolerated. OflScials found guilty of shirking their duty 
to allow some persons to create a reign of terror or violent 
incidents would be punished.^^ He made it clear that the 
Union Government would not tolerate attempts to foist on 
the people of any state or region leaders by hook or by crook. 
“If somebody here thinks that he is the master of Kashmir, 
that he has been sent by God to rule over the people of the 
state, he is wrong” It was an appropriate answer to Abdullah’s 
conceited assertions and highhandedness of the National 
Conference leadership and rowdyism. 

Charan Singh admitted in a talk with newsmen that there was 
worse atmosphere in the Kashmir State than what it was in 
other states where elections had been recently held. But he 
assured the people that whatever happened in the past this 
time the elections arc bound to be fair and free. “I can assure 
you on behalf of the Government of India that whatever needs 
to be done for this purpose will be done”.® Next day, June 21, 
addressing a public meeting at Jummu, Charan Singh was 
more emphatic and revealing : “After studying the situation I 
am of the view that a political party wants to win the elections 
by means of hooliganism. But hooliganism will not be allowed 
to be let loose anywhere in the state and the authorities have 
been cautioned about it. If there was lethargy (in the past) 
on the part of the administration in the Valley, it will not recur 


^Tintes of India, June 14, 1977. 
'Times of India, June 20, 1977. 
^Statesman, June 21, 1977. 



Pledges Unredeemed 


143 


in future”.^ 

In a similar vein. Defence Minister Jagjivan Ram who followed 
Charan Singh, addressing a public meeting on June 21 in 
Srinagar “warned that the Government would not hesitate to 
take the strongest action if there was any attempt to resort to 
violence and intimidation”.” In a press conference next day he 
repudiated the suggestion that the Kashmir Janata was a weak 
organization. On the contrary, he said, he was quite hopeful 
that the party would win a majority of seats and form govern- 
ment in the State.^ 

The star performer. Prime Minister Morarji Desai, who 
spoke at many gatherings in different towns was unequivocal and 
most assertive of all. His theme everywhere was tersely stated 
in Srinagar on June 26 before an estimated audience of over sixty 
thousand Kashmiris. He said he had heard that people were 
being intimidated and coerced by hired goondas to vote for a 
certain party. “It was the duty of the Government to crush 
tyrants and instill courage in the hearts of the weak. Goondas 
creating a reign of terror would be jailed. . .Nobody can be 
permitted to hold the people to ransom. The law of the land 
would deal with anti-social elements without any inhibition. 
Strict orders have been issued to ensure that”.*^ 

Unfortunately, these high sounding pledges were not 
redeemed. For lack of any action to implement them soon 
after the Union Ministers left the territories of Jammu and 
Kashmir, hooliganism swept over the Valley, the adjacent 
Muslim belt in Jammu region and Ladakh with greater vigour 
and ferocity. The partisan officials as well as the rowdies in 
employ of the National Conference took the warnings and 
threats of high dignitaries as roars of paper tigers which could 
harm nobody. When the uncontrolled violence decended on 
the- land pathetic appeals were made to New Delhi by oppo- 
sition leaders, leading citizens and businessmen to come to the 
rescue of the victimized and downtrodden as promised. 


^Times of India, June 22, 1977. 
"Statesman, June 22, 1977. 
°Times of India, June 23, 1977. 
^Ibid. 



144 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


Maulana Masoodi sent an urgent telegram on June 30 to the 
Prime Minister Desai telling him that "your assurances about 
removal of partisan officials, complete impartiality of adminis- 
tration and firmness of police in dealing with hooligans remains 
unfulfilled”. The Maulana demanded effective and immediate 
action. But deaf ears greeted the frantic calls. The local 
authorities only scoffed at the helplessness of the Janata 
supporters and welcomed the triumphal march of rilT-rafT, the 
hooligan and the rowdy. Even the newspaper correspondents 
not friendly to Janata Party and its leaders, reported that “the 
Chief Election Commissioner, Governor and Intelligence Branch 
had favoured the National Conference” and “just before the 
election polling booths were arbitrarily changed (and left- 
unguarded) to suit National Conference”.^ 

It was time that the Union Government should have made its 
authority felt, intervened, removed partisan officers including 
the untrustworthy Governor and replaced them by men of 
undoubted integrity, posted C.R.P. and B.S.F. wherever 
Kashmir policemen had proved partial and thus fully restored 
the confidence of State people before the polling took place. 
But the bungling continued; then came tlie anti-climax. 

Instead of redeeming the pledges, the Central leaders dis- 
played indecent haste in acknowledging the “victory” of the 
National Conference at the polls. Even before all the results 
were out. Home Minister Charan Singh, ignoring the verdict 
of the Kashmir Janata Party, promised whole hearted support 
to the “winners”. Next day, Prime Minister Desai sent a 
telegram of congratulations to Abdullah : “Please accept my 
congratulations on the victory of the National Conference in the 
elections to the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly”. 

Tlic worse was yet to come. 

One may seek justification for the changed stance of the 
Union Ministers in the official position they held under the 
Constitution, Having allowed the elections, whether free or 
unfrec, to take place, they could not withhold lending recogni- 
tion to the victorious. But the same cannot be said about the 
message of greetings despatched by Janata Party President, 


^Sunday, Calcutta, Ju’y 24, 1977. 



Pledges Unredeemed 


145 


Chandra Shekhar. He had neither a word of sympatliy for the 
people who were beaten, looted, humiliated and harassed for 
supporting Janata nor a inessjigc to the Ad Hoc Committee 
which had borne the brunt and worked almost a miracle in 
two months by organizing the Slate parly and launching a 
vigorous electioneering campaign from a scratch. Chandra 
Shekhar congratulated Abdullah on his Parly’s victory and 
expressed the hope that the Slate will witness progress and 
prosperity under his leadership.^ Insulting to Kashmir demo- 
cracy was the remark made by Madhu Limay.a, general .secre- 
tary of Janata Party, that “National Conference had obtained 
a clear mandate from the people’*. He was happy that “Sheikh 
Abdullah had assured him that his government would not 
resort to repressive laws against its opponents.’’” As we .shall 
find Limaya and men like him were soon to become wiser. 

The conscicncc-kcepcr of Janata, Jayprakash Narayan, could 
not resist the temptation of welcoming the victory of National 
Conference. It will be recalled that Narayan had blc.sscd the 
move of planting Janata flag in the State and hoped that the 
gulf between Kiishmir and India would be bridged. That hope 
had been dashed by Abdullah and his lieutenants who used 
Jayaprakash’s letter written with sincerity and pious wish to 
Karra, in routing Janata. 

What was J.P. applauding when he welcomed the victor)' of 
the National Conference ? Nothing could be more thoughtless 
than Narayan’s message. It was the mca.surc of confusion in the 
thinking of Janata leadership. The message was all the more 
astonishing for in a statement made in a diflerent but similar 
context, J.P. expressed grave concern over “the significance 
and power which goondaism and anti-social elements have 
acquired and arc acquiring in our lifc’’.^ Had Narayan known 
what part his letter to Karra played in ruinning the chances of 
Janata’s victory he would probably not have issued the certifi- 
cate to National Conference. 

Though these messages were motivated by the desire to keep 


^Statesman, July 7, 1977. 
'Jhict., August 10, 1977. 
’‘Ibid. 



146 


Dimocracy through Intimidation and Terror 


the usurper on the right side of Indian Union, they betrayed the 
guilty conscience from which Indian leadership has sulTered 
since accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India. 

In the circumstances it was difficult for State Janata leaders 
to stand by their decision not to concede the victory of the 
National Conference. Following in the footsteps of the Central 
leaders, the Ad Hoc Committee adopted a resolution confirming 
the officially announced result of the election though, at the 
same time, it condemned hooliganism resorted to by the 
National Conference prior to and after the polling.^ 

I submitted a proposal that the Central Government should 
be approached to constitute a commission of enquiry compri- 
sing a Supreme Court Judge to investigate the hooligan acts 
and irregularities committed in the election process. I pleaded 
further that in case the proposal was rejected, the Ad Hoc 
Committee should resign en bloc. But the proposal was not 
acceptable to my colleagues. 

I could not associate myself with the spirit of the resolution 
because I continued to believe that the victory of National 
Conference was fraudulent. Once again I realized how diffi- 
cult it was to standby one’s honest views after having joined 
party politics, albeit temporarily. 

Back in New Delhi, I issued a comprehensive Press state- 
ments referred to earlier giving my version of the crucial episode 
in the constitutional history of the Kaslunir State. In it I 
insisted on the appointment of a high powered commission 
to inquire into the violent deeds, unlawful tactics and various 
malpractices indulged in by the National Conference.^ 

Then on July 14, I submitted my letter of resignation from 
the Ad Hoc Committee to Maulana Masoodi earlier than I 
intended to do in any case, and reverted to my status of a non- 
party man as I had been for over twenty years. 


‘See Appendix E. 
’See Appendix F. 



15 


Post-Election Excesses 


T he undeserved and unmerited ofiice which was conferred on ’• 
him by the weak-kneed Janata leaders after the elections, 
convinced Abdullah that his policy worked wonderfully well 
and proved a success beyond his expectations. Immediately 
after assuming power on July 6, he proceeded audaciously to 
consolidate his dictatorial regime. He appointed 24 members of 
the National Conference Legislative Party (half of the- total 
number) including his son-in-law, G.M. Shah, as- his- council 
of ministers. He made changes in the personnel of the adminis- - 
tration on a big scale putting his favouritics and tliose who were 
helpful to him in winning the elections, on key posts; others • 
who had refused to be partisan were either degraded or given 
jobs where they were believed to prove incficctivc and harmless. 

Abdullah reappointed his son, Tariq, as managing director of- 
the Tourist Development Corporation which provoked wrath’ 
of unemployed graduates. In protest, hundreds of them resorted • 
to hunger strike at-Bud Shah Chowk, the hub of Srinagar trad- 
ing area. The police used force, made lathi charges and burst 
tear gas shells to disperse the hunger strikers but failed. Finally 
twenty-one, four girls among them, were taken into custody and - 
imprisoned. 



148 


Ditiwcracy through Intimidation and Terror 


In ordering appointments to public offices or selecting can- 
didates for admission to medical, technical and other training 
institutions, he gave preference to kith and kin or partymen; 
'nepotism, misuse of power and corruption surpassed his own 
previous records. 

Abdullah lost no time to oppress opposition in order to 
subdue it. Early in August his chief colleagues approached the 
Janata leaders in New Delhi suggesting reconstitution of 
Kashmir Ad Hoc Committee by nominating pro-Abdullah men 
as its members.^ This Hitlerian proposal was rejected. To 
•pressurize the JanataJeadership to come to terms with him the 
Sheikh •began to be friendly with^’lhc Congress and seek its 
cooperation. But the State Congress leaders were unprepared 
to carry out his behests; the marriage of convenience fell on the 
rocks. “Mr. Abdullah thinks he is the king of Kashmir”, a 
Congress leader told newsmen in a jampacked Ghulab Bhawan 
in Jammu where Congress President Brahmananda Reddy was 
to address Congress workers. “There is no Indira Gandhi at the 
centre to support you. You arc at my mercy he told us 
frankly”.2 Abdullah turned to the rival faction in the Congress; 
invited Mrs. Gandhi to Srinagar, gave her a royal reception 
on September 21 and made her an honoured State guest But 
in her speech Indira uttered not a word in support of Sheikh 
which disappointed him. His plan to pressurize Janata by these 
tactics did not succeed. 

' Failing in this direction, too, Abdullah approached for 
support to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in West 
Bengal where they had come into power. He opened negotia- 
tions with Jyoti Basu, chief minister of that State. Both met in 
Srinagar on October 28 and were reported to have agreed that 
“stales should have more effective pow'crs in the political, finan- 
cial and economic spheres”. Anxious to preserve his illgottcn 
gains, Abdullah complained that “interference from the centre 
only encourages fissiparous tendencies”.^ 

Meanwhile there were commotions in different parts of the 

'InJiti/: Express, August 4, 1977. 

■Ihtd., August 24, 1977. 

^Staesnsan, October 29. 1977, 



•Post-Election Excesses' 


14 ^. 

State and Abdullah became desperate and took up cudgels 
against opposition from whichever quarter it came. He ordered ■■ 
the Janata Unit to vacate the Forest Lodge which, it will be . 
recalled, had been allotted to the Party for use as its head - 
quarters. The Party believed he did not have the power to do 
so and approached the court for securing stay orders until the 
matter was finally adjudicated. But on September 17, when the 
case was subjudice, Abdullah sent a strong posse of police 
which pulled down the party’s name board, threw out half a 
dozen Party employees who were present in the office and 
sealed the premises. Commenting on the incident Kashmir Times 
wrote on September 21 ; “The State Government’s action in 
forcibly evicting the State Janata Party from the premises occu- 
pied by it in Srinagar smacks of authoritarianism and vindictive- 
ness. The fact that the Government action followed the Janata 
Party move to approach the court makes it all the more deplor- 
able. Obviously the State Government have tried to forestall 
the court action thus betraying a lack of respect for the judicial . 
processes and rule of law”. 

A campaign was launched by the State administnition to 
indiscriminately arrest political workers and others who displayed 
even the least sympathy with the opposition. Ali Mohammad 
Naik, a former deputy speaker of Jammu and Kashmir 
Assembly, was taken into custody at Tral on August 27. In the 
following'days policemen were seen actively engaged all over 
the Valley taking people into custody and throwing them 
into prison cells.- Addressing his followers on September 16, 
Mirwaiz Farboq itioaned that ' the ruling party was not ' 
allowing his followers to carry on their legitimate political 
activity in the State. He revealed that about 1000 workers of 
his Awami Action Committee were in custody.^ 

The ruling party did not hesitate to interfere in the working 
of the judiciary and at times refused to carry out the instruc- 
tions of the Chief Justice, Rafi-uddin ' Ansari, 'who had been , 
deputed two years earlier by Union Government to set high 
standard of justice in the State, In disgust, Ansari decided to 
relinquish the oflSce. 

^Statesman, September 17, 1977. 



150 


Democracy through lutimUlaikm ami Terror 


Exchange of heated arguments took place in the Legislative 
Assembly when its first post-election session opened on Septem- 
ber 7, and the disconcerting events were brouglit to notice and 
discussed. • Outside the House, common people were becoming 
restive. ; Depicting the situation. Kashmir Times wrote on 
September 8 under the caption “JReign of Terror” : 

“Soon after its victory in the elections, secured by dubious 
means, the National Conference workers launched an organized 
campaign of hooliganism and terrorism. A large number of 
workers of the Janata Party in Srinagar were assaulted, even 
women were attacked and the houses of Janata workers 
looted. . . Tlic Jaw and order machinery, instead of protecting 
the lives and property of the peaceful citizens only played 
second fiddle to National Conference workers, The State 
Government did not even hc.sitatc to use such draconian laws 
as MISA to detain the workers and supporters of the Janata 
-Party.” 

The editorial alerted : 

“The way administration is being used against the political 
.opponents of the National Conference only confinns the 
su.spicion that Sheikh Abdullah is out to perpetuate one party 
rule in the State, His object seems to be to wipe out the 
organized democratic secular opposition from the State.” 

Emboldened by capture of power and connivance of Union 
Government in all that the State government was doing, 
Abdullah took steps to hold other elected institutions of local 
authority by slrongarm methods. He ordered fresh clcctioas of 
panchayats (village committees) and municipal bodies; every- 
where the scenes of rowdyism were rc-cnactcd. 

Calling it a “unfunny farce” Time of Imlia 'wrote in its edi- 
torial of November 7, 1977 : 

“The farce to which the elections to some 900 panchayats in 
Jammu and Kashmir, held on October 24, were reduced is 
the worst possible advertisement for ‘grassroots democracy* 
in action. Though they were farcical, they were not funny 
•for in the widespread violence and blatant corruption that 
.accompanied them at least one life was lost, over a hundred 
people were injured, some gravely, and another Jiundred, by 
.official admission, taken into custody during fiercely partisan 



Post-Election Excesses 


151 


clashes (unofficial estimates put this last figure at around 350).” 

The Times of India demanded an independent enquiry into 
poll irregularities such as interparty scuffling, the physical 
coercion by losing candidates of presiding officers into announc- 
ing that they had won, the spiriting away of nomination papers, 
the modification of ward boundaries and similar outrages. 

Indian Express remarked in its issue of November 8 that “it 
is no secret that the law and order machinery did break down at 
places both during and after the poll.” 

The policy of suppressing opposition was not and could not 
be confined within the State. A ban was imposed on the entry 
into the State of two dailies Hind Samachar and Punjab Kesari 
published from Jullunder (Punjab) on September 2 and 5 
respectively because they were critical of Abdullah’s misdeeds. 
The editor of the journals, Romesh Chander, approached the 
Supreme Court for getting the ban removed. The court issued 
notices to the State government to show cause why the writ 
petitions challenging the ban orders should not be admitted. 
Apprehensive of Supreme Court’s unfavourable final verdict 
the ruling party adopted a measure which astonished the entire 
coimtry though it only furnished further evidence of the real 
nature of the administration which had been imposed on the 
State people. 

Barely four months after resuming reins of power in his 
hands, Abdullah realized that the popular opposition against 
liim which he had been able to defeat at the hustings through 
horror and intimidation was not dead. From all sides and 
in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir patriotic peace-lovers 
assisted opposition politicians in actively imdemiining ruling 
party’s position and in asserting democratic urges of the people. 
Abdullah feared a general uprising and panicked. By the end 
of October, unknown to anyone outside bis cabinet, he got an 
ordinance prepared which gave the State government sweeping 
powers to crush opposition in general and critics of the ruling 
party in particular. The world came to learn about the ordi- 
nance a week later on November 6 when it appeared in an 
extraordinary issue of State Official Gazette. 

The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Ordinance, as it is 
called, enables the government to detain persons and put curbs 



152 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


on newspapers and other publications in the interest of State 
security and maintenance of public order. Under the ordinance 
ii person can be detained for two years without communicating 
the grounds of detention to him if the same is considered 
necessary in public interest. The person can be detained with- 
out even the ease going to the Advisory Board, which is to be 
set up under the ordinance, and there is also no bar on issuing 
a second detention order after the expiration of the first. 

The section of the ordinance applicable to the Press gives 
power to the government to prohibit circulation of newspapers 
published in the State as well as bun the entry of newspapers 
published outside the State if the government feels that the same 
contain prejudicial reports. 

The ordinance also regulates the entry of persons into pro- 
hibited areas. The measure defines the prejudicial act as one 
which is intended to or likely to prejudice the State’s relations 
W'ilh Union of India or other states in the Union or maintenance 
of public order and peaceful conditions in the Stale. 

The ordinance also covers all acts likely to cause disa/Tcclion 
among public scr\'ants or to prejudice, prevent or interfere with 
their recruitment, discipline or training, or to create enmity or 
hatred between di/ferent classes of citizens of the Stale or of the 
Indian Union, 

Referring to the newspapers, the ordinance defines the pre- 
judicial report as any report, statement or visible representation, 
whether true or false, which, or the publication of which, is an 
incitement to the commission of prejudicial act. 

The two notable features of the comprehensive ordinance arc 
that on the expiration of a detention order the detaining autho- 
rity is not barred from making a fresh detention order against 
the same person for a further period of two years. Secondly, 
action can be taken on the basis of any document made, printed 
or published whether before or after the ordinance came into 
force. 

The .spirit of Emergency was manifest in the ordinancc~thc 
same draconian laws, sniffing out of civil liberties and democratic 
rights, gagging of the Press and arbitrary' imprisonment for 
indefinite period of critics or any person crossing the wishes of 
the ruling caucus. 



Posi-Ekction Excesses 


153 


Commented the Statesman : “Whatever the truth, the scope of 
the present ordinance goes far beyond all democratically accept- 
able norms of ofiicial control. It vests the Government with 
draconian power of arrest ithout giving grounds and of virtually 
indefinite imprisonment".' Warning Abdullah to ponder over 
what he was doing Times of India wrote : “Tlic issue is not one 
of constitutional validity but also one of political morality”.^ 

“Our advice on the ordinance was not sought”, admitted 
a spokesman of the Union Government. Indeed, it was reported 
that “The Central Goverment came to know of the text of the 
ordinance after it was promulgated”.*^ Home Minister Charan 
Singh told the Janata Parliamentary Party that the Union 
Government was informed about it after it had been issued.** 

The promulgation of the ordinance raised an uproar all over 
India; it julifiably shocked the entire nation; it outraged those 
who Iiad sufTcred the atrocities, indignities and humiliations 
under Emergency rule of Indira Gandhi. New.spapcrs from length 
and breath of the country vehemently protested against it. 

Calling it a retrograde step, the Hindustan Times .said edito- 
rially : “What the State administration has done through the 
draconian ordinance is to resurrect all the dreaded features of 
the emergency under which the life and property, as much as 
freedom of speech and movement, were restricted or altogether 
denied at the sweet will and pleasure of the c.xccutivc . . . The 
ordinance, therefore, comes as a total surprise and will be 
condemned by the people of India who have paid very dearly to 
win back their lost freedom”. 

Even the Abdullah lobby in the National Press and political 
quarters in New Delhi felt indignant. The Indian Express, 
friendly to the National Conference, said on November 8 that 
“the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Ordinance cannot but 
be described as a bolt from the blue”. The Express hit the nail 
on the head by pointing out that “such .sweeping fiats are either 
a sequel to visible public disorder or a precaution to meet 


^Statesmen, November 6, 1977. 
’‘Times of India, November 8, 1977. 

November 12, 1977. 

^Indian Express, November 14, 1977. 



154 


Democracy through Jntimidatiort and Terror 


perceptible danger”. Unknown to the people outside the Stale 
from whom facts are deliberately hidden by leaders and the 
Press, Abdullah knew what danger compelled him to resort to 
the black ordinance. Jyoti Basu with whom the Sheikh had 
discussed alliance of National Conference and Communist Party 
of India (Marxist) only a week earlier condemned the ordinance 
and remarked : “We are against detention without trial”. The 
Politbureau of CPI (M) in a statement noted that it was unfortu- 
nate that the ordinance for preventive detention should have 
been imposed on the State. “The ordinance has come at a time 
when democratic forces in the whole country are pressing the 
Janata Government to withdraw MISA, abrogate the 42nd 
Constitutional Amendment Act, and restore full civil liberties 
and democratic rights. It is the demand of the democratic forces 
that powers of preventive detention should not be vested either 
in the Central or the State Government”.^ 

That the opposition parties in Kashmir should have furiously 
reacted to the enactment of the ordinance is hardly surprising. 
Mir\vaiz Farooq, chairman, Awami Action Committee, Saifuddin 
Qari of Jamati Islami, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed of Congress 
Party wondered as to what was the provocation for promul- 
gation of the anti-people law. Ved Bhasin, Secrctar)’, Jammu 
Region Janata Party, described the ordinance as a challenge to 
all democratic people not only in the State but all over the 
country. He said “it should leave no one in doubt about the 
fascist character of Abdullah’s government”.^ 

Did the Central leadership realize what a blunder . they had 
committed in readily yielding to the outcome of terrorization in 
State Assembly elections and in handing over the Kashmiris to 
the tender mercies of an unscrupulous adventurer ? It is difficult 
to answer. But one could detect signs of wisdom dawning in at 
least some of the Janata men. Party President, Chandra 
Shekhar, critised the ordinance. In a press interview on Novem- 
ber 10, he admitted it was “unjustified” and “did not represent 
a happy trend.” The two general secretaries of the Party, Rabi 
Ray and Madhu Limaya, reacted sharply to the ordinance. 


^Hindustan Times, November 8, 1977. 
'Kashmir Times, November 8, 1977. 



Post-Election Excesses 


155 


Denouncing it Ray said “it was not expected.” Madhu Limaya 
strongly deplored it. “Our Party is firmly opposed to preventive 
detention”, he said. Both asked how could a man like Abdullah 
approve it.^ They should have known that only self-delusion 
had kept Indian leadership from knowing the real character 
of National Conference and its boss. 

To cater to the anti-Pakistan sentiments of extremist Hindus, 
Abdullah justified the adoption of the drastic measure by saying 
that “as long as there was no international agreement between 
India and Pakistan on the issue of the areas of Jammu and 
Kashmir State which were illegally occupied by Pakistan, the 
explosive situation on our borders will continue”; therefore, 
“there was a need to keep ourselves alert and vigilant and fully 
equip ourselves with laws to deal with such anti-national ele- 
ments”. This was an insincere plea because sometime earlier 
on August 25 his government to curry favour with pro-Pakistan 
Muslims, had decided to withdraw the Alfatah case in which 30 
young men were facing trial on charges of sabotage, subversion 
and armed dacoity allegedly under Pakistan inspiration. The 
case was instituted in 1971 following the unearthing of a gang 
of spies by the police while investigating two cases of armed 
decoity in a night raid on the treasury at Pulwana in Anantnag 
district in which Rs. 75000 were carried away and a daylight 
robbery at the Kashmir University branch of the Jammu and 
Kashmir Bank in which rupees one lakh were stolen.^ 

It will also be noted that in their electioneering campaign 
Abdullah and Beg stridently demanded opening of Srinagar- 
Rawalpindi Road to allow free flow of traffic between Kashmir 
and Pakistan; both repeatedly assured the Kashmir Muslims 
that if National Conference is voted to power, their Govern- 
ment will take immediate measures to implement this proposal. 
That mocks the declared aim of the Public Safety Ordinance 
that it is directed to effectively deal with the evil-intentioned 
spies and guerillas from across the border. Free flow of traffic, 
it should be clear to meanest intelligence, would make it easier 
for spies and guerillas to ply their nefarious business. 

^Hindustan Times, November 7, 1977. 

^Indian Express, August 26, 1977. 



156 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


The fact is that with the healthy change in the foreign 
policies of the two countries, never v/ere relations between India 
and Pakistan so close and friendly as today. A substantial public 
opinion has grown in Pakistan in support of restoring cordial 
relations withTndia. Spies and guerillas get little encourage- 
ment in any case for the present. The Pakistan Government is 
seriously making efforts to mend relations with India to achieve 
direly needed political stability and feel distressed by Abdulla’s 
untimely utterances. A foreign office spokesman in Islamabad, 
according to Pakistan Radio, said that Abdullah was spreading 
falsehoods to justify the promulgation of Public Safety Ordi- 
nance w’hich gives his government vast powers to detain anyone 
without trial. 

The pledge to State Muslims in whispering tones that soon 
after capture of power National Conference government can, 
by adopting a simple resolution in State Assembly rejecting 
State’s accession to India, bring them closer to their cherished 
objective w'as to hoodwink the religion-ridden, gullible, and 
back\vard classes to secure their votes. Now the Public Safety 
Ordinance is to suppress the opposition including the disillu- 
sioned among the voters -who supported the National Conference 
lured by false hopes which could never materialise. 

No, it is not the Pakistan guerillas and spies w'ho haunt 
Abdullah and his henchmen; it is the enormous force of patriots, 
democrats and freedom-lovers who have been outraged which 
frightens the usurpers of power; hence the promulgation of 
draconian law to crush them. 

“Ironically”, said S. A. Shamim, a former member of Lok 
Sabha, “24 years ago his (Abdullah’s) predecessor Bakshi 
Ghulam Mohammad, also used the same language and logic for 
most of the repressive laws enforced by him. . . During the recent 
Assembly elections he had enticed voters v/iththe prospect of 
opening Srinagar-Rawalpindi Road and some observers believe 
that his ‘impressive victory’ was partly due to this temptation. 
But that was at a time wben he was not sure of his return to 
power” 

Sheikh’s explanation did not cut much ice and could not carry 

^77;r Current, Bombay, November 1977. 



Post-Election Excesses 


157 


conviction. People asked to what explosive situation in Pakistan 
he was referring. 

Obviously the ordinance is not meant to deal with cvil-inten- 
tioned men across the border but to annihilate the ever-growing 
opposition to the ruling party within the Jammu and Kashmir 
State. 



16 


The Guilty Conscience 


I NDIANS have a guilty conscience over Kashmir. Whatever 
they may say to conceal their thoughts and for consumption 
of the world at large, or to silence the outbursts of Pakistan, 
at heart they feel they have not been fair to the Kashmiris who 
have acceded to India under coercion and through betrayal of 
Abdullah. The Union Government’s Kashmir policy ( if with 
all its twists and turns it can at all be called a consistent policy) 
has been initially formulated and evolved over the years under 
strain of the guilty conscience. 

Jawaharlal Nehru was by nature and upbringing a secular- 
ilist and a democrat : his respect for human values was beyond 
doubt. But, at times, he was carried away by impulse 
which distorted his vision. Kashmir was one of his blind spots 
and when in 1947 he agreed to the State’s accession to India 
without first finding the will of the local people, it was a 
blunder. Apart from his love for the ancient homeland, Nehru 
was misled in doing so by Abdullah whose character he had 
not been able to size up. Kashmir became a running, festering 
sore, a problem which remains unresolved till today. 

It was neither solicitude for non-Muslim minority, nor 
regard for principles of secularism and dcmoracy which drove 
Abdullah to persuade Nehru to accept the ofTer, There is no 



The Guilty Conscience 


159 


gainsaying the fact that the former had been declared persona 
non grata by the implacable creator of Pakistan. Knowing that 
Jinnah was adamant and vindictive and Kashmir’s accession to 
Pakistan would spell his doom, Abdullah with the patronage 
of ever-accommodating and obliging Nehru, converted misfor- 
tune into glory by presenting himself as lover of Indian nation- 
alism and secular culture in which he really did not have much 
faith. The tactics succeeded though Mahatama Gandhi, a 
better judge of men, timely warned Abdullah that India will 
not be able to save him if he failed to carry the Kashmiris 
along with himself in making the State an integral part of the 
Indian Union. 

Nehru soon realized that after the coming of Pakistan into 
existence, it was no smooth sailing for India to go ahead with 
Muslim Kashmir by its side. One false step led to another, 
but with passage of time the retention of Kashmir within the 
Union became a matter of national prestige. Special care was 
taken and many due and undue favours shown to win the good- 
will of the Kashmiris. But incessant propaganda broadcast by 
Pakistan to rouse religious passions of the Kashmiris coupled 
with mistakes made by our incompetent administrators success- 
fully kept the State people resentful and sour. The alternative 
to mollifying Kashmiris in the eyes of Nehru was to hold up 
Abdullah as the most accredited and popular leader of the 
State and appease him to remain steadfast in keeping Kashmir 
with India. Though many in the Congress camp and many 
more in the opposition parties thoroughly disapproved of the 
appeasement and criticized Nehru for it, this became the anchor 
sheet of Kashmir policy of the Indian Government. It is true 
that though the opposition leaders hit the Government when- 
ever the issue came up in the Parliament or at any forum out- 
side it, they had no constructive proposal to offer. If ever a 
voice was raised to point out that the State’s accession to 
India was morally indefensible and the source of all trouble, it 
was shouted down and drowned. 

Aware of the Union Government’s weakness in dealing with 
the Kashmir affairs, Abdullah consolidated liis personal posi- 
tion and power which he was allowed to do in disregard of 
the public opinion in Jammu and Kaslimir. His demands' were 



] 60 Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 

readily met, his misuse of power, nepotism, corruption *and 
highhandedness were overlooked. To lionize him in public and 
boost him up as the peerless leader of the State people affor- 
ded moral justiheation for the unfair deal of forced accession. 

It was only in 1953 when Sheikh foolishly forgot that 
patience and tolerance of the Indian leaders too had a limit, 
and he became supercilious in his attitude that Congress 
Government, overruling Nehru, took drastic action by deposing 
Sheikh and by despatching him into wilderness of prison and 
exile for a long period. 

Nehru had to depend on Abdullah. Logically he had no 
alternative but to raise his protege’s stature and stress his 
international importance whether or not he found Abdullah 
fit for it. For six years (1947-1953; the drama— ^farcical and 
fraudulent — was enacted. It was the period when Abdullah 
presented himself as the greatest champion of Indian nationali- 
sm and secularism, unrivalled among the Muslim politicians, a 
humble devotee of Mabatama Gandhi and great admirer of 
Nehru. He was however jealous of any interference in his 
personal power and resented the idea that the State people 
were entitled to enjoy under the Indian Constitution funda- 
mental rights and not to be ruled by draconian laws passed 
by him. 

In 1953, worried by the worsening situation in the State 
when the resentment of the people deepened, certain democra- 
tic elements in New Delhi asserted themselves and forced 
the hands of Nehru to bring the Kashmiris closer to the Indian 
people. Thus brought to bay, Abdullah turned a somersault, 
challenged the validity of accession, emphasized the say of 
Pakistan in State’s future, demanded plebiscite and made 
religion the main plank of his political platform. Gone were 
the days when secularism and democracy w’ere the funda- 
mentals of his political faith. By his attitude and incessant 
propaganda, he accentuated the guilty conscience of the 
Congress leaders who found in him a frankenstcin of their 
own creation. It was, therefore, a great relief when in February 
1975, against all canons of justice and principles of democracy. 
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi once again foisted Abdullah and 
his chief lieutenant. Beg, on the Kashmiris as their rulers. Of 



The Guilty Conscience 


161 


course, the caucus willingly and unhesitatingly renounced the 
plebiscite demand incessantly made for 22 years, to secure 
power without any prior reference to the public vole. For 
two years Abdullah reverted to the previous role and once 
again sang the songs of secularism, socialism and Indian 
nationalism. 

The duplicity practised by Abdullah was heartily disliked 
by the opposition parties in India; indeed, a number of 
Congress men too were critical of Jawaharlal Nehru for 
being indulgent to the undependable hero of Kashmir saga. 
In Parliament and outside, the opposition did not mince words 
while giving vent to their disapproval of Kashmir policy. But 
the perennial question stared in the face of all Indians that 
Kashmiris were with India mostly under coercion and the 
guilty conscience it generated made the opposition leaders 
dwell in the necessity of accepting the Shcikli as the unavoid- 
able evil. They were, however, not happy at it and frequently 
made it clear that if returned to power they would cut the 
Sheikh to size and put him at his place. The desired oppor- 
tunity arrived in April, 1977. 

Tremendous changes had taken place in and outside Jammu 
and Kashmir. The educated Muslim youth whose number 
multiplied several times in 30 years realized that Sheikh 
Abdullah’s inconsistent behaviour had done immense harm to 
the interests of the Kashmiris; it had thwarted their progress 
and deprived them of several political and human rights enjoyed 
by all the other Indians. Although free elections were held in 
all other stales, the Kashmiris alone were disabled to choose 
their true representatives because elections were rigged; they 
were denied many other democratic and constitutional rights 
because Sheikh’s duplicity was creating suspicions in the minds 
of Indian people about the loyality of the Muslims of Jammu 
and Kashmir. 

Popular resentment deepened when Sheikh was installed in 
power in 1975 by the misplaced generosity of Indira Gandhi. 
As before for six years from 1947 — 1953, he now misused power 
and authority on wider scale; corruption, nepotism and high- 
handedness touched a new low. A sigh of relief was heaved by 
the Kashmiris when the majority Congress party withdrew its 



162 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


support to Sheikh government and he was forced to relinquish 
power in March, 1977. It was evident the people wanted to 
have done with Abdullah and his bullying, blackmailing 
tactics. 

Characteristically, Abdullah, terrified by forces arrayed 
against him, re-enacted the plebiscite farce to rouse the passions 
of Kashmiri Muslims whose edge had been blunted by afore- 
mentioned causes. He gave a vicious turn to State politics by 
declaring that Janata Party had come into being to throttle 
State autonomy by abrogating Article 370 of the Indian 
Constitution. 

Commenting on the new stance of National Conference 
leadership, Girilal Jain, Editor, Times of India, wrote : 

“The Kashmir problem is further complicated by the fact 
that Sheikh himself is not averse to inciting local subnationali- 
sm— v/itness the manner in which he, without the slightest 
provocation or justification, invented the myth of the Janata 
Party wanting to do away with Article 370 of the Constitution. 
What is worse, his followers arc indulging in blatantly com- 
munal appeals, they are* telling ordinary uneducated Muslims 
in the countrj'sidc that the majority community in India is 
determined to deprive them of their land and other means of 
livelihood and administering oaths to them on the holy Quran 
that they will vote for the National Conference”. 

Jain pointed out that it could not be an accident that the 
Congress Party withdrev/ its support to Sheikh Government 
and “persons representing almost all shades of opinion in the 
State including some of those like Mr. Prem Nath Bazaz who 
stood by himv/hen he w'as in political wilderness, have formed 
a united front against him under the umbrella of Janata Party”. 

Jain went on to say ; 

“The Sheikh has always tended to speak with two voices. 
His accent in the Valley where the vast majority of the people 
happen to be Muslims who have had a raw-deal at the hands 
of all outsiders for hundreds of years, has always been different 



The Guilty Conscience 


163 


from that in New Delhi and elsewhere in the country. And 
since this time the main challenge to him comes not from men 
known for their pro-Indian sympathies like the late Bakshi 
Gulam Mohammad, Mr. Sadiq and Mr. Qasim but from tliose 
who in the past have been highly critical of New Delhi it was 
only to be expected that he and the National Conference 
would appeal to communal sentiments”. 

Girilal Jain beckoned the Janata Government in New Delhi 
that its task was not an easy one : 

"Irrespective of party consideration it has to be wary of the 
SheiJdi partly because bis record in office in tljc last two years 
has left much to be desired — the setup under him is not knowm 
to have been either honest or efficient or sufficiently interested 
in the well being of the people — partly lie has the tendency to 
change his stance on basic issues according to Iris convenience”. 

Stressing that developments in Kashmir impinge on the 
country’s security in the manner that is unique, Jain in conclu- 
sion warned the Union Government not to miss "this oppor- 
tunity of assuring a genuinely free and fair eleetion enabling 
the people to have a government of tlieir choice. Like the rest 
of their countrymen, the people in the State prize liberty 
because they have discovered that much else hinges on it”. 

Abdullah and his National Conference had committed not 
only one but a number of crimes punishable under the Election 
Rules; they had created lawlessness by resorting to hooliganism. 
There never was any love lost between Janata Party and the 
Sheikh. Indeed, most of the Janata leaders had in the past 
denounced pro-Abdullah Kashmir policy of Jawaharlal Nehru 
and made no secret of their determination to drastically change 
it at the first opportunity they could seize. In a talk he had with 
members of Ad Hoc Committee of the Kashmir Janata Party, 
Prime Minister Morarji Desai had stated that even as early as 
nineteen forties he had assessed and disliked Abdullah’s politics 
which was harmful for the country and injurious to the interests 
of the State people. It is wellknown that many other Janata 



1(54 


Democracy through Jntimidaiion and Terror 


leaders were unhappy with the fraudulent ways and deceptive 
statements of the Sheikh. 

By a combination of fortuitous circumstances the long sought 
for opportunity had arrived in April, 1977 when anew and 
healthy turn could be given to State politics and get it rid of 
one-man domination and other evils; it could now be reared on 
democratic basis by involving common men and women through 
free and fair elections. And if their solemn statements were 
any guide, the Janata leaders appeared anxious to do so. Hopes 
rose sky high among the Kashmiris that the bright era was 
round the corner and a new shining chapter in their history 
would open with the elections to State Assembly. But then like 
a bolt from the blue came the anti-climax. 

The warnings and assurances of Home Minister Charan 
Singh and Prime Minister Morarji Desai proved totally ineffcc- 
tive. Whether someone in (he confidence of the Central 
Government like L. K. Jha encouraged the National Conference 
leadership in this behalf or they were bold enough to go ahead 
on their own, on June 30 a fresh and most vigorous campaign 
of hooliganism was launched with impunity all over the 
Kashmir Valley to terrorize voters, attack Janata offices, beat 
Janata workers and loot shops and houses of opponents by the 
hoodlums of the National Conference. Known and notorious 
goondas held the field and there was no one to keep them 
under control; no law and order to maintain peace. All 
approach to local authorities from Governor to Divisional 
Commissioner and Inspector General of Police proved fruitless; 
indeed, no one responded to the frantic calls of the Janata 
leaders. Telegraphic appeals to the Prime Minister from Kashmir 
Janata leaders were not even acknowledged. Unchallenged and 
uncontrolled the National Conference held the Valley and 
adjoining Muslim areas through sheer vandalism for eight 
days — June 30 to July 7 — to the bewilderment of the Kaslmiiris 
in general and the State Janata leadership in particular. 

It w.Ts in such a ‘Tree and fair” atmosphere that the elections 
to the Assembly were held in the Valley and Ladakh on July 3. 

With the declaration of victory of the National Conference 
a reign of terror dcccndcd on the Valley. In defiance of orders 



The Guilty Conscience 


165 


issued under scctioji 144 Cr. P.C. big nnd small processions 
of hoodlums went round beating innocent men and women, 
tearing their clothes and forcing them to pay protection money; 
the Janata candidates and prominent workers became special 
targets of the hooligans. 

To the consternation of Janata supporters while the anarchy 
was in evidence everywhere not only Union Ministers but also 
the central leaders of Janata Party including President Chandra 
Shekhar, hurriedly despatched messages of congratulations to 
Abdullah who had recovered from “serious illness” on the 
success of his party at the polls. It enraged Kashmiri Janata 
leaders and infuriated their workers and supporters because 
they found themselves disgracefully let down in the battle for 
survival of democracy in the State. Since independence the 
Kashmiris had been betrayed from time to time by Abdullah, 
Nehru, Congress Party, National Conference and others. But 
this was the unkindcst cut of all. What puzzled lovers of 
democracy in the State was the attitude of central Janata leaders 
who had for decades vehemently criticised Nehru, his daughter 
and other Congress leaders of that ilk for the irrational 
Kashmir policy by upholding Sheikh’s dictatorship and by 
suppressing democratic and secular opposition to him. What 
staggered the Ad Hoc Committee was that the solemn assurances 
given in private meetings and public gatherings by the respon- 
sible Union Ministers should have proved undependable and 
the State administration become blatantly partisan after the 
departure of the ministers. 

Various explanations have been given by political analysts 
to clear this baffling development in the election process. But 
the answ'cr lies in the same guilty conscience of the Janata 
leaders which Nehru his associates and his daughter had 
fostared for three decades over Kashmir. 

When anti Abdullah wave was running high in May, National 
Conference leaders made tremendous cflorts to poison the cars 
of Janata high command by telling it that the Kashmir members 
of the Ad Hoc Committee were pro-Pakistan; the candidates 
which were later put in the field to fight elections were also 
accused of being partisans of Pakistan. Colour was lent to this 
false story when along with Janata banners a large number of 



166 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


green flags Vr’as witnessed in the mammoth procession carried 
out by supporters of the Janata Party on June 30 in Srinagar, It 
is said that the report of the incidence was effectively employed 
to frighten the central Janata leaders by Abdullah and his 
sympathisers in New Delhi. The sudden change in the attitude 
of Janata leadership is ascribed to it by some observers. 

There can be no denial that many of those who manned 
Janata Party in the Valley had stood at one time or another for 
State's accession to PaWstan. But this can be said of Muslims 
in general including the staunchest followers of the National 
'Conference. Nor should the display of green flags have caused 
alarm because the mass meetings and processions in the Valley 
whichever political party arranges them partake of religious 
complexion. It is the usual practice with National Conference 
leadership to start a public meeting with recitation of the holy 
Quran; and, indeed, during his electioneering campaign 
Abdullah incited his Muslim audiences by telling them that 
the public meetings addressed by the Janata leaders refrained 
from this Islamic duty. There was therefore no occasion for 
the Janata leaders to feel panicky at the waving of green flags 
in the procession. It is not to justify mixing of religion with 
politics but a statement of facts which may not be liked but 
cannot be denied. 

Change of ideas and opinions can be sincere in human 
beings as well as in political bodies. Was not Muslim Conference 
converted into National Conference in 1939 ? Janata Party itself 
is a glaring example of this quality of human nature. 

It is no secret that in 1947 the entire Muslim population 
of Jammu and Kashmir enthusiastically desired to form part 
of Pakistan Nation, Abdullah’s protestation notwithstanding. 
Circumstances have forced the Kashmiris, at any rate expe- 
rienced and thoughtful sections among them, to revise their 
views and get rid of the accession phobia. Janata Party’s follow- 
ing in the Valley had to come from such disillusioned, progressive 
and open minded sections. The Janata members could not fall 
from the heavens. It is therefore unfair to denounce erstwhile 
pro-Pakistanis and damaging to Indian interests to rake up the 
past of such men and women who had changed and desired 
to demolish totalitarianism and raise the structure of secular 



The Guilty Comcience 


167 


democracy in the State, National Conference hypocrites have 
vested interest in dubbing every Kashmiri as Pakistani who is 
not with them and is bent upon fighting against authoritarian 
rule in the State. Janata leaders should have been able to see 
through the game and refused to be taken in. 

Despite their bluif and bluster and condemnation of Nehru’s 
Kashmir policy since the accession of the State to India, Janata 
leaders too are subconsciously tortured by the thought that their 
stand in Kashmir is not morally justified; that India is occupy- 
ing the Valley not with the consent of the Kashmiris but by the 
might of the armies; they do not and cannot put any reliance 
on the goodwill of the local people. Therefore, the Janata 
leaders, like their predecessors in office, have arrived at the 
conclusion that it is better, wiser and more tactful to have a 
deal with a man who is internationally known with all his 
vicious practices and evils he indulges in, than trust the rising 
democratic elements which arc at any rate non-descript and 
unknown at present. The Janata Party leaders obviously are 
heavily preoccupied with multifarious affairs outside the State 
and do not have sufficient leisure to devote to the revision of 
Nehru’s Kashmir policy for the better; and under pressure of 
circumstances, they found it discreet to adopt the condemned 
policy without change. At the crucial time courage deserted the 
Janata leaders; they could not rise to the occasion; they were 
weighed in the balance and found wanting. Not surprisingly, 
Abdullah who had repeatedly censured and attacked the Union 
Ministers for publicly condemning hooliganism in scathing terms, 
paid rich tributes to Morarji Desai for his “uprightness” and 
“steadfastness”. “I must congratulate Mr. Desai who allowed 
the normal electoral process to go on”, he declared in a public 
gathering.^ 


^Indian Express, August 13, 1977. 


17 


The Losses and the Gains 


A S was expected, the assembly elections of 1977 proved an 
important episode in the political history of Jammu and 
Kasitmir State. They were held at a time when the State people, 
or at any rate the Kashmir Muslims, were passing through a 
mental crisis which afforded a golden opportunity to success- 
fully induce them to come into the mainstream of national life 
from which they had persistently remained aloof since the. 
subcontinent achieved independence. Jawaharlal Nehru had 
yearned for such an opportunity but did not get it during his 
lifetime. When it ultimately arrived thirteen years after his death 
his critical opponents who were now holding the reins of 
Government in their hands proved incompetent and chicken- 
hearted; they could not act boldly and stand by the forces of 
democracy and secularism which the changed situation had 
thrown up among the Kashmiris and were struggling to assert 
themselves. 

Having committed a blunder in accepting the Muslim State’s 
accession to India after partition of the subcontinent on religious 
basis, Nehru could not help spreading the myth that National 
Conference under Abdullah’s leadership was the representative 
body of the Stale people because he was distressfully aware of 
the fact that there were no Muslims in those days of communal 
turmoil to support India’s claim over Kashmir. In 1977 condi- 



The Losses ami the Gains 


169 


lions had undergone a substantial change. Two meaningful 
developments had taken place outside Kashmir in the seventies 
which hud produced far reaching conrcqucnccs on the thinking 
of the State Muslims; the psychosis formed by the partition had 
been broken enabling the Kashmiris to see their future in a 
clearer perspective and a brighter light; it had given jolts to the 
closed mind of the young and the old. 

Disillusioned by capture of power by the Army all over the 
Islamic Statetowards which they had looked as their fatherland, 
but heartened by the overthrow of dictatorship in the battle of 
the ballot in India, the Kashmiris saw a ray of light in the 
latter which blazed the path to the goal of their own emancipa- 
tion from one-man rule and the tyranny of his caucus. More 
importantly, confidence in the potentiality of Indian democracy 
had grown for the first time in the minds of the Kaslmiiris. 

In rallying round the Janata banner the multitudes and the 
educated Muslims were not driven by their love for the Janata 
but by their hatred of the local tyrants and disillusionment with 
the hope of deliverance by joining Pakistan. Never before since 
1947 were .so many Kashmiris emotionally involved in a move- 
ment for the State’s integration with India. An independent 
candidate in Wachi constituency in Anantnag district, Maulvi 
Abdul Hamid, went to the extent of seeking a mandate for 
abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Of course, 
he did not truly represent the changed thinking but his platform 
was not without significance in the new awakening. The Maulvi 
had been an active member of pro-Jinnah Muslim Conference 
in pre-1947 days and after independence he had been the 
founder-chairman of pro-Pakistan Political Conference. He felt 
that there was a greater need of civil liberties and human rights 
in the State than internal autonomy. He said : “The internal 
autonomy had been used by the political leaders to deny 
democratic rights to the people. This was true in the days of 
the Maharaja and also when Sheikh Abdullah was in power”.^ 

In yielding to the hooligan forces of National Conference 
and the fascist tactics of Abdullah the Janata Government has 
dealt a severe blow at the rising Kashmir democracy from 


^Hindustan Times, June 29, 1977. 



170 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


■which it will take long to recover. Whether another such 
opportunity to give an impetus to process of integration of the 
State with the Indian Union will soon recur, it is difficult to say 
because the democratic forces generated by aforementioned 
causes arc at present in a shambles; there is a feeling commonly 
shared that Janata leaders have ignominiously let down the 
Kashmiris. In my opinion it would be unfair to blame the 
Kashmiris if they are reluctant or not at all prepared to again 
place any reliance on the pledges given by Indian leaders. This 
is the greatest loss which India has suffered and can ill afford in 
her none-too-casy endeavour to make the State’s accession 
final and irrevocable. 

For decades the Indian nationalists have disowned com- 
munalisra and challenged the two-nation theory of Jinnah and 
his Muslim league as not true to facts of Indian life. By mani- 
pulating and rigging all past elections in Kashmir State attempts 
were made to prove that the ruling party whether it was the 
National Conference or the Congress represented the people 
without any religious or regional distinctions. The outcome of the 
1977 assembly elections as accepted by the Janata Government 
has exposed the hollowness of the claim. Abdullah has bagged 
almost all the scats from the Muslim majority constituencies and 
all the seats from the Hindu majority constituencies have been 
captured by either the Congress, Janata or Independent Jan 
Sanghis; the two-nation theory thus stands vindicated to the 
chagrin of the nationalists. It is undoubtedly another great loss 
of Indian secularism. 

Of no small magnitude is the loss suffered by demoralization 
of people in the Valley caused b)' the triumph of rowdyism 
which by common agreement characterized the electioneering 
campaign of the National Conference. Intimidation and terror 
have formed a part of Kashmir politics ever since the uprising 
of 1931; they are not totally absent in elections elsewhere; but 
the violence and goondaism resorted to by National Conference 
ruffians surpassed all records as was admitted by Home 
Minister Charan Singh, in one of his utterances referred to 
earlier. The minorities, both religious and political, such as 
Pandits, Sikhs, Bakaras (followers of the Mirwaiz) and Shias 
who gave vent to their long suppressed anti-Abdullah feelings 



The Losses and (he Gains 


111 


under the impression that a new era of peace and justice was 
about to dawm in which tlicy could live without fear of aggres- 
sion from the majority, arc now' bemoaning their indiscretion. 
They have justification to believe that hooliganism is an 
inalienable part of State politics and they have to live with it 
whether they like it or not; they have been compelled to believe 
that the National Conference is the only party that is entitled to 
rule, its unpopularity notw-ithstanding; it is, therefore, foolish 
and hazardous to oppose it. 

Worst of all, is the communal disharmony on the one side 
and the regional disunity on the other which have been produc- 
ed or revived by the mode of electioneering of the National 
Conference leadership. In the beginning and during the days of 
formation of Kashmir Janata unit, scenes of communal accord 
and brotherhood were w-itnessed all over the State; probably it 
was more pronounced in the Valley than in other parts; genuine 
secular politics was finding fertile soil to struck roots and 
assume a recognizable shape. But ;is the electioneering campaign 
of the National Conference progressed the scene changed for 
the worse, secularism becoming the first casualty. But for the 
widespread publicity of Janata to keep elections free from 
religious antagoni.sm both the regions of Jammu and Kashmir 
if not also Ladakh, might have been engulfed in communal riots. 
Nevertheless, the election has left behind scars which it W'ill 
take long to heal. 

As against these losses, it augurs well for future that some 
gains have accrued which, in fairness, must be credited to 
the heroism, patience, and farsightedness displayed by the 
Kashmir Janata leaders throughout the two brief months of 
election. 

Despite its recourse to hooliganism, rousing of religious 
frenzy, committing of irregularities with the connivance of 
ofiicials, National Conference was not able to secure a majority 
of the votes polled at the hustings, (see Table giving details 
of the results of the elections). According to the final 
figures the Conference polled 807138 votes which is 46.22 per 
cent of the total; Janata claimed the second place by securing 



172 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


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Rajouri 22,588 21,939 10,344 — 13,707 68,578 


The Losses and the Gains 


173 


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174 


Democracy through Jntimidation and Terror 


414201 voles being 23.72 per cent. The rc.sl of the votes were 
bagged cither by the Congress, Jamali Islnmi, Cojnmuni.s(f. or 
independent candidates. 

It is remarkable that no fewer than 320366 men and women 
in the Valley and as many as 91499 in Doda and Rajouri-Poonch 
cast their votes for Janata and Congress candidates. These arc 
predominantly Muslim areas in the Stale and the voters are 
more than 90 per cent Muslim. The few non-Muslim voters in 
the constituencies were loo tcrror-.strickcn to leave their homes, 
attend the polling booths and cast their voles. It is therefore 
permissible to assume that the voters were almo.st entirely 
Muslim. That Abdullah’s cohorts v/ilh holy Quran in their hands 
to make the Muslims .sv/car by the sacred .scripture to vole for 
National Conference, failed to influence over four hundred 
eleven thousand follov/crs of the Faith is by no means an insigni- 
ficant achievement of the democrats. It reveals a new thinking 
among the Muslims and speaks of a bright future for the ideal 
of secularism and democracy in the State. 

The result of the election in Jammu is no less encouraging. 
Despite the in-fighting of two factions Jed by Sheikh Abdur 
Rchman and Thakorc Baldev Singh who could not reconcile 
with each other and give a united figlit to the candidates oppos- 
ing Janata at the polls, the Janata did well. Bitterly criticised 
by even v/cll-mcaning friends, the choice of candidates in the 
Jammu region by the Janata election committee, v/as by and 
large a stroke of statesmanship. The committee rejected with 
full av/arcncss of the consequences, the applications of Hindu 
fanatics (c;:trcmist Jan ,Shaghi.s) preferring others of balanced 
and moderate vievAs. This move cITcctivcly counteracted the 
vicious propaganda of Abdullah that Janata v/as essentially anti- 
Muslim Jan Sangh in a nev/ grab. Prime Minister Morarji Desai 
dc.scrv'cs praise for having stubbornly upheld the decision of the 
election committee though some of his influential colleagues 
pleaded on behalf of the rejected candidates to effect changes 
in the list. The election result has vindicated the committee. 

Though sixteen Jan .Sanghi applicants for Janata ticket 
rebelled against the party and contc.stcd election on their ov/n 
as independants, only three of them won; in eight other consti- 
tuencies the rebels .split the votes facilitating the victory of the 



175 


The Losses and the Gains 

S 

Congress. On the whole, however, the Janata emerged the most 
popular in the Jammu region bagging eleven seats as against 
ten by the Congress and seven by the National Conference. 
Obviously the Janata could have done better by catering to the 
demands of Hindu zealots which it spurned. On September 2, 
it was announced that the sixteen rebels and their nine chief 
election agents were expelled from the Janata Party in 
accordance with the decision of the National Executive of the 
Party I consider this as a gain because it has blazed the trail 
of secularism and democracy in a majority Muslim State. 

The final though by-no-means unimportant or negligible gain 
is the exposure of the fascist nature of the National Conference 
whose claim of being a secular, democratic body was mistakenly 
accepted inside and outside the State on its face value. 
By character assassination of their opponents, by sedulously 
spreading lies, by rousing religious and regional passions and 
by employing ragtag and bobtail to terrorize peaceful citizenry, 
the National Conference has given ample proof that basically 
the organization worships power and is little concerned about 
preservation of human values, moral principales or fundamental 
rights and civil liberties of tlie State people. 

Considering dispassionately the details of the election result 
little doubt is left in the mind of a detached observer that had 
the Union Ministers firmly stood by their pledges to suppress 
rowdyism by iron hand, democratic elements would have come 
into their own and fascist hordes disabled to overrun the most 
sensitive area of the Indian Republic. It is a tragedy too deep for 
tears that courage deserted Morarji Desai and Charan Singh at 
the crucial time when it was most needed and when the running 
sore of the unresolved Kashmir problem could have been 
healed by giving unfettered freedom to the State people to 
express their inner urges and aspirations through voting at 
the polls. 


^Kashmir TimeSt September 3, 1977. 



18 

The Only Way Out 


B ecause the security council Resolutions on the Kashmir 
accession dispute adopted in 1948-49 could not, for what- 
ever reason, be implemented, they virtually became a dead 
letter. Though Paldstan has not ceased to put forth its claim 
over the State territory on the basis of its majority Muslim 
population and the UN Resolutions, the Islamic State has lost 
much of its charm to attract the Kashmir Muslims. Neverthe- 
less, it would be courting self-delusion to believe that the 
problem exists no more; it would be a complacency fraught 
with danger. 

To suppose that the Kashmiris have finally decided to throw 
in their lot with India and that there is no problem of the 
Stale’s integration with the Union would be fatuous. The fact 
is that Kashmir politics is in a fiux and it can take any turn in 
the future depending upon the nature of measures that Indian 
leadership adopts to give it a direction. 

The unresolved condition of the problem is generally 
blamed upon the communal propensity of the much-maligned 
Kashmir Muslims. I believe this is grossly unfair. Why should 
we not admit that the spirit of secularism is yet unborn in India 
and the two successive ruling parties — the Congress and the 
Janata — ^which have had to handle the Kashmir question in the 
past arc not free from communal bias and religious prejudice. 



The Only Way Out 


177 


From Mahatma Gmicihi's Hind Swaraj (Indian Self Government) 
which is the source of inspiration to both Congress and Janata, 
to Secular Democracy is a far cry. To bring the Kashmiris in 
the mainstream of national life neither of the two parties has 
taken them into confidence by establishing democratic princi- 
ples and norms in the State. The Indian rulers have only succeed- 
ed in creating cliques and caucuses upon whom power has been 
bestowed in the hope that they will profess loyalty to the Indian 
Union which may or may not be sincere. It is this ill conceived 
policy which has alienated the affection and sympathy of 
common men and women of the State, especially the Muslims, 
for India and friLstralcd all endeavours to settle the nccc.ssion 
issue once and for all. 

Among the most pampered favourities of the Indian Icttdcrs 
has been Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who is supposed to 
stand a guarantee for Slate’s accession to the Indian Union. 
Now and again, Indian leaders have realized through bitter 
experience what a great risk is involved in this unfounded 
belief but lacking moral and political courage to own Kashmiris 
as arc people in the rest of India, they see no alternative to it 
and dwell in their necessity. 

The latest example of the disgusting adulation was furnished 
by head of Indian State. While Kashmiris arc passing through 
an ordetU, India’s President, Sanjiva Reddy, tried to outbid 
Janata leaders by his fawning on Abdullah. In reply to a wel- 
come address presented to the President in the famous Shalimar 
Garden during his brief stay in early October, 1977, he said that 
“for his achievements Sheikh Abdullah deserves to be ciillednot 
only Shcr-i- Kashmir (Lion of Kashmir) but also Shcr-i-Bharal 
(Lion of India)”. The President probably did not know or did 
not care to know how such remarks in the present political 
milieu deeply hurt the Ka.shmiri*s fccling.s. 

Abdullah is fully conscious of the weaknesses of Indian 
Icadcnship and has no qualms to derive maximum advantage 
out of the precarious situation to fulfil his ambition of becoming 
the dictator of Jammu and Kashmir. The many ups and downs in 
Iris political career have taught him to play his cards dexterously. 
In his scheme of things the Slate people have, in the context 
of accession, lost all significance and meaning. They can serve 



J78 


Democracy through Intmidation and Terror 


■him only as a pavm in the game of power politics. After indepen- 
dence his single aim has become to maintain his supremacy over 
Kashmir by hook or by crook. For the fuifilment of his con- 
suming ambition he has been playing alternately the aforemen- 
tioned two roles, pro- and anti-India, in State politics. 

By nature and temperament Abdullah is not unlike Idi Amin. 
If he has not been equally ferocious and ruthless as the Ugandan 
dictator, it is because he lacks sovereign authority which he 
would verj’ much like to possess and tries to snatch from Indian 
Union under cover of Article 370. He is also afraid of Indian 
Army in the State %vhose presence often exercises a healthy and 
sobering influence on his rash temperament. 

.A.bdullah has more than once expressed his ignoble desire to 
liquidate opponents for criticising his misdeeds. In J 971, the 
irrepressible Abdul Rashid Kabli (now a member of the State 
Legislative Assembly) took him to task in a public gathering 
for arrogance and improper behaviour. The enraged Sheikh 
responded by saying that “the budding politician should be 
hanged on the nearest lamp post for the audacity to question his 
doings”. Had Kashmir been a sovereign state and not a part 
of Indian Republic and had Abdullah been the head of govern- 
ment at the time, he might have carried out his savage whim. 

For want of space I cannot extensively deal with Abdullah's 
two roles during the past thirty years by quoting from docu- 
ments issued on historic occasions and communications dis- 
patched by him at crucial limes. It should, however, be clear 
that he is opposed to integration — immediate or in the future — 
of the State with Indian Union because he entertains little doubt 
that it v/ill hasten the end of his political career. Therefore, his 
strategy is to prolong the period of suspense, keep the State in 
doldrums and the Indian leaders guessing, enabling him to enjoy 
power for an indefinite period. The calm on the surface of the 
political and social life of the State, however, is deceptive; there 
is turmoil just below it which may be thrown up any moment 
with unpredictable consequences involving the entire country. 
All classes, communities and sections of the State people are 
seething with discontent; hidden to the eye things are simmering; 
it can give rise to a situation which may get out of control. 



The Only M m Out 


179 


Yet, paradoxically, there never has been in post-indepen- 
dcncc period any time more propitious and congenial than the 
present one for persuading the Kashmiris to be loyal Indians 
and join the mainstream of national life. Wliat the Congress 
leaders have under adverse circumstances and guided by short- 
sight failed to do for three decades may be accomplished by 
Janata rulers if they remove their blinkers, take courage in 
both their hands, treat Kashmiris as human beings and act with 
liberal and wise statesmanship in dealing with the unresolved 
problem. 

Though the Kashmiris arc obsessed since 1 947 by the accession 
issue, it is well to remember that the primary aim of their 
struggle for freedom from autocracy ;md despotism launched as 
far back as 1931, was to achieve human and democratic rights, 
build in.stitutions to safeguard them and usher in an era of peace 
and progress in the State. This is manifest from the pronounce- 
ments of the Kashmir leaders made during the hectic years 
(1931 — 1936) of the struggle. Farsighted and wise Indian rulers 
can remove the obsession by directing the attention and energy 
of the Kashmiris to objectives which motivated the 1931 
uprising. Foisting discredited leaders on them will only harden 
the obsession and retard the healthy process of reversion to 
original stand which was accelerated when during the election 
days hopes were raised that Janata Parly was detennined to 
bring Kashmir State in line with other states in the Union 
so far as enjoyment of democratic rights as guaranteed by the 
Constitution was concerned. 

Can the situation be retrieved ? If the answer be in the 
afilrmative how can this be done and what steps arc required to 
be taken ? 

The first important thing to keep constantly in mind by every 
Indian patriot is that our profession of secularism which we 
arrogantly flaunt in the face of critics, may be an ideal contain- 
ed in the Constitution; but the secular outlook has yet to form 
a part of our behaviour and become a habit. The day is far off 
when Hindu India which emerged at the time of Great Partition 
will become Secular India. Until then poor Kashmiris should 
not be unfairly denounced for entertaining suspicions and for 
demanding autonomy as was guaranteed to them by the Article 



180 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


370. But the special status should not be allowed, as has been 
done in the past, to be exploited by a caucus for fulfilment of 
their own ambitions and by a self-seeking leader for his personal 
ends; it should be instrumental, as it was meant to be, in the 
growth of democratic institutions and a spirit of secularism in 
the State. It should serve to uplift common men and women 
and to promote their welfare. The main defect of India’s Kashmir 
policy has been that it totally ignored the State people and their 
human and democratic rights, and laid stress on the role of 
individuals or groups who only feathered their own nests but 
could not deliver the goods which they were expected to do. It 
is astounding that the Congress leaders failed to see this plain 
truth; personal predilections alone prevented Jawaharlal Nehru 
from detecting it. 

Though Janata leaders never saw eye to eye with Nehru on 
Kaslimir, they have displayed puzzling thoughtlessness when 
called upon to handle the issue. Declaring vociferously that 
they are determined to discard the old injurious policy and 
stand by Kashmir democracy they have in the end sheepishly 
owned and followed Nehru’s course of action. If in these 
circumstances State people are seething with unrest who can 
in fairness blame them? If the Muslims harbour fears and 
suspicions about Union Government’s intentions why should 
they be denounced ? 

Even if the Janata leaders had boldly proceeded to revise and 
reorient the Kashmir policy after becoming the arbiters of India’s 
fate, they had to face a difficulty which they would ignore at a 
peril. Knowing the antecedents of the constituent units of Janata 
Party, particularly of Jan Sangh with its rabid anti-Muslim 
past, it would still take a good deal of time for Kashmiris to 
Janata. Unfortunately the golden opportunity that Janata let 
in June-July, 1977, has by no means allayed the apprehen- 

ons and enhanced the Party’s prestige in the State; instead, it 
has deepened the fears of the Valley people. The assurances 
given by top ranking Janata leaders of preserdng State’s 
autonomy under Article 370 arc considered false. To Muslims 

the overnight sea-green change in the attitude of erstwhile Jan 
Sangh stalwarts who were foremost in demanding repeal of 
Article 370, sounds insincere and unbelievable. 



The Only Way Out 


181 


After having thoroughly grasped the core of the problem by 
close application of open mind, the Janata leaders should move 
in two directions to inspire the confidence of the Kashmiris in 
the good intentions of the Indian Union: First, in an atmosphere 
totally free from terror or intimidation fresh elections to the 
State Assembly should be held forthwith under the supervision 
of a neutral authority. A pre-requisite for free elections is a 
nonpartisan administration and a governor whose bona fidcs arc 
above doubt or question The governor and his advisers should 
be men worthy of trust. They should be able to give the 
impression that the Central Government is impartial and deter- 
mined to uproot violence, intimidation, terror and rowdyism; 
it is bent upon establishing democratic norms and practices. 
At the same time, a commission of inquiry comprising a sitting 
or retired judge of the Supreme Court should be constituted to 
report on the misuse of power by State governments since 1947 
and the atrocities suficred by law abiding people of which ample 
evidence is available; the commission should also recommend 
adequate punishment for those found guilty and compensation 
to the aggrieved. Beyond doubt, the fulfilment of the pre- 
requisites will generate a political weather in the State favoura- 
ble to India which it is difficult to envisage by mediocre intellect. 
But in these friendly moves the Kashmiris will see the dawn 
of the day when they can expect their five-decade old dreams 
come true. 

It is reasonable to believe that a legislative assembly freely 
and fairlcssly chosen will not misuse autonomous powers confer- 
cd on the Slate but will utilize the provisions of Article 370 
to promote democratic principles and wellbeing of the State 
people. Nevertheless, precautions and safeguards will be needed 
to defend autonomy against the inroads of unscrupulous poli- 
ticians for even the best conceived schemes can go awry and be 
in danger of being manipulated by men led by nothing else but 
abnormal insatiable ambitions. 

Will the Janata ruling party be able to rise to the occasion, 
display appropriate courage and solve the issue which has eaten 
into the vitals of the nation ? I wish I could answer the question 
by saying “yes”. That the precious opportunity which came their 
way soon after the Janata leaders captured the seats of power 



182 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


in New Delhi, was allowed to slip out of their hands makes me 
pessimistic. I can only hope that the latest developments in 
the State may force the hands of Janata Government to move 
with farsight and courage, earlier than I expect. The present 
power structure in the State is bound to collapse and come to an 
inglorious end. It has suicidal tendencies and is recklessly 
taking steps to uproot democratic opposition which will inevita- 
bly lead to a conflagration by exploding the dynamite of public 
resentment. It only remains to be seen if the Janata takes the 
lime by forelock and generates a climate congenial for the 
growth of democracy, peace and tranquillity. 

Ten years ago, in 1967, in my last book on Kashmir dis- 
cussing complications, currents and crosscurrents of State 
politics, I posed the question: Is there then no way out? 
Answering it myself, I said : 

“I think despite what has taken place the hope is not entirely 
lost, but it will need Himalayan moral courage to pause, review 
the policy so far pursued and adopt sensible measures to meet 
the situation in the light of experience gained. . . If the 
Muslims are dissatisfied and sullen the responsibility must be 
laid at the door of the Indian leadership. The Kashmiris have 
to be convinced that by being citizens of India their religion and 
culture will flourish and they will attain the political and 
economic freedom for which they have fought and made huge 
sacrifices In past decades. . . By encouraging the democratic 
view and by supporting the self-respecting patriots who represent 
the urges and aspirations of the Kashmiris, Indian leaders can 
create conditions in the Valley which will gradually bring about 
an emotional integration of the State with the rest of the 
Union”. 

Concluding ray plea, I added : 

So long as Article 370 is not actually' abrogated, a plan can 
be devised under which Kashmir will enjoy autonomy within 
the framework of the Indian Constitution, Today this is a 
possible alternative to repression, tomorrow it may be too 
Iatc”.i 

How I wish ray plea had been considered and given a deep 


in Crudhlc, Pamposh Publications (1967), Pages ](50-164. 



The Only Out 


183 


thought by the Janata leaders if the Congress leaders who had 
hitched their wagon to the star of Abdullah in Slate politics, 
failed to do so. My views have not undergone any change during 
the past decade and f continue to believe that fostering of 
democratic elements and removing the hiatus between State 
people and the Central Government which Abdullah did so much 
to create, is the only way out. 



19 


Epilogue 


R estoration of eivll liberties and democratic rights in 
India after the dowTiful of Indira Gandhi Government and 
capture of power by Janata Party at the centre, was called the 
second independence of Indian nation. It, however, did not take 
long for anti-social elements to reactivate themselves in different 
fields of social activity: saiyagrahas, strikes, gheraos, processions 
often accompanied by violence, became, the order of the day; 
students went on rampage in a few universities which had to be 
temporarily closed do^vn; in several cities and towns number of 
robberies, killings and dacoities increased. Therefore, when law 
and order situation deteriorated, Janata Government was called 
upon to seriously consider the problem and adopt firm measures 
to subdue bad characters and disturbers of peace. A proposaJ 
was mooted that a notv section may be incorporated in the 
Criminal Procedure Code giving powers to the executive enabl- 
ing it to detain persons suspected of harbouring eril designs 
towards the State or indulging in actirities harmful to the 
society. It was intended to thus make preventive detention a 
permanent feature of the CP. Code which would obviate the 
necessity of promulgating a special legislation for the purpose 
from time to time as had been done ever since the promulgation 
of the Indian Constitution. As a matter of fact, the proposal in 



Epilogue 


185 


the shape of a Bi!! was introduced in the Lok Sablia by Home 
Minister Charnn Singh in March, J978. 

Preventive detention is detested by freedom lovers every- 
where because it violates the fundamental rights of citizens; it 
is opposed to the pledges given in their Party Manifesto by the 
Janata leaders which they issued while fighting elections and 
laying down the aims and objectives of the Party. The Bill was 
considered an affront by freedom fighters who suffered imprison- 
ment and other hardships under emergency regime; it clashed 
with the new spirit which penneated Indian society after 
getting rkl of dictatorship of Indira Gandhi. There was deter- 
mined opposition to the Bill not only from opponents and 
friendly critics of the Government but also from within the 
Janata Party itself; the rank and file were agitated and angrj'. 
Strong voices of protest were raised by progrcssi\’c Janata 
leaders condemning the measure. It was stressed that 
miscreants should be dealt with under the provisions of ordinary 
lawwiiich arc sufficicmly cflcctivc to deal with the situation. 
The central cabinet sensing the intensity of resentment grace- 
fully yielded and directed that the Bill be withdrawn forthwith. 

The widespread opposition in Jammu and Kashmir to the 
Public Safety Ordinance and strong unfavourable comments in 
the national press to the same appeared to have dampened the 
spirit of National Conference bosses loo; Abdullah made a 
number of offers and gave assurances to mollify the people: 
removal of rigorous clauses of the Ordinance, toning down of its 
language, prior consultation with the opposition parties in the 
State Assinbly, no whip to be issued to National Conference 
Assembly members to vote against their conscience; not to get 
the Bill hustled through and, above all, take each and every 
section of the people into confidence. Abdullah also indicated 
that he would wait and see how the Central Government dealt 
with the problem and equipped itself with powers to meet the 
deteriorating law and order situation. If the proposed Preven- 
tive Detention Bill was passed by the Parliament, he thought, 
his task would he facilitated and the ease of opposition 
Weakened. Being themselves in a mood to retain the preventive 
detention law in one form or another, both Prime Minister 
Morarji Desai and Home Minister Charan Singh did not totally 



1S6 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


oppose the Kashmir Ordinance at the time but advised Abdullah 
to have its harsh clauses deleted to make it more reasonable 
and acceptable. 

The picture entirely changed when under pressure of public 
opinion, the Janata Government had to withdraw the Bill 
meant to incorporate preventive detention as a section of C.P. 
Code. Abdullah’s hopes were frustrated as he had no longer 
any moral or political base to stand upon in the issue.' 

Had Abdullah been a popular figure in the State and his 
government not a usurper, he would have, like the Janata 
leaders, bowed before the stiff opposition and abandoned the 
idea of enacting the draconian law. Not unexpectedly, he 
became recalcitrant and throwing to the winds the assurances 
he had publicly given to the people, went ahead with his plans 
to convert the Ordinance into an Act with the backing of his 
party’s brute majority in the Assembly. He did so with indecent 
haste. 

On April I, 1978, Deputy Chief Minister Afzal Beg moved 
the most hated Bill in the State Assembly, ironically on the 
same day and almost at the same hour when Union Home 
Minister Charan Singh was seeking thc'perniission of the Lok 
Sabha to withdraw the Bill to incorporate a section on 
preventive detention in the C.P. Code. 

What took place in the State Assembly on this dismal day 
has been comprehensively reported by the special correspondent 
of the Kashmir Times in its issue of April 2; I do not feel that it is 
necessary to oficr an apology for making long quotations from 
the report because it is important that democrats everywhere 
and Indian public in particular, should remain informed about 
developments in the State. The special correspondent wrote ; 

“The Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly today 
passed the controversial Public Safety Ordinance amidst 
unprecedented scenes including dharna by four opposition 
members with Marshal of the House removing them forcibly, 
slogan shouting, walk-out by the entire opposition and angry 
exchanges between the treasury benches and the opposition. 
The speaker extended the sitting of the House six times to 
enable the Government to rush through the Bill. Mr. Abdul 
Ghani Lone, leader of the opposition, called it a black law 



Epilogue 


187 


and lawless law. lie displaj'cd his copy of the Bill painted 
darkest black. 

“The opposition members’ repeated pleas to allow them to 
speak on the Bill, as according to them it was a vital piece of 
legislation having a bearing on the people’s future, were turned 
down. The opposition members wondered why the Government 
wanted to hustle through the Bill without giving them an 
opportunity to speak. Significantly not a single member from 
the ruling National Conference spoke on the Bill. The Finance 
Minister alone spoke in defence of the Bill. 

“Mr. Abdul Rashid Kabli (Janata) pointed out that it was 
the responsibility of the centre to defend the borders and deal 
with anti-national elements; as such the subject matter of the 
Bill did not fall under the purview of the State Government, 

“After Mr. Beg moved the Bill for consideration, Mr. Mangat 
Ram (Cong-I) and Mr. Bhim Singh (Cong) moved amendments 
of referring the Bill to a select committee. When the names of 
the members of the select committee were announced which 
included (his name), Mr. Lone, the Janata Party leader, got up 
to say that there could be no question of his becoming a 
member of the committee. His party was fundamentally 
opposed to the Bill both in letter and spirit. They wanted this 
Bill to be scrapped ‘look, stock and barrel’ as this was a 
‘lawless law’. We should bury this draconian Bill once and for 
all. ■ 

“Mr. Lone protested against the adoption of the motion in 
this manner and with such haste. He said he was on his legs 
to speak on the motion but instead of allowing him to say some- 
thing the Speaker put the motion to vote. This, he said, was 
curtailment of members’ right. 

‘‘When the Chief Minister angrily interrupted, Mr. Lone 
pointed towards him and quipped : ‘they have come out in their 
true colours and they do not even allow anyone to speak on this 
Bill’. 

“The Deputy leader of the Janata Party, Mr, Rishi Kumar 
Kaushal, said the Chief Minister should not forget that history 
repeats itself. Mr. Kak enacted such law and himself became 
a victim of it. The late Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammed met the 
same fate, Mr. Kaushal said that the Janata Government at 



188 


Democracy ihrough Iniimhlathm and Terror 


the centre had withdrawn the Bill on preventive detention in 
response to popular view. ‘Then why do you bring forth such 
a Bill to put shackles on our of freedom’ ? he asked. 

“Referring to the Chief Minister’s claim that his life was an 
open book, Mr. Lone said that he had added this black page to 
that book. He warmed up to describe the Bill as ‘black law’ . 
and amidst shouts of protests from NC members said : ‘you 
have maintained the traditions of goondaism through your 
workers, and corruption is rampant. All this makes it dear 
that your fight was only for the chair.’ 

“Intervening in the discussion, the Finance Minister, Slid 
Devi Dass Thakur, said some of the provisions of the 
Ordinance, which had received criticism, had been substantially 
diluted or altogether deleted. Therefore, it was wrong to say 
that it was a draconion law. He said a peculiar situation had 
arisen in the State since September, 1977, with the expiry of 
all laws on the subject. The Government had a vital respon- 
sibilty to look after the interests of the State and in this matter 
no risks could be taken. The promulgation of the Ordinance 
came in this background. 

“When the Speaker called upon Mr. Beg to reply to the 
debate the opposition members protested saying they wanted to 
speak on the subject and most of them were on their legs but 
Were not alloNvcd to do so. Mr. Prithvi Chand (Janata) came 
forward to sit on ditorna before the Speaker’s desk and alleged 
that the members’ voice was being stifled. Another Janata 
member, Mr. Tulsi Ram, and a Janata Front member, Mr. Ram 
Nath Manilas, also joined him in dliarna. The Speaker directed 
the Marshal to remove these members from the House after he 
had named them. The Marshal took the slogan shouting 
members away. Other Janata Party and Janata Front membens 
then walked out shouting agaistthc Bill. 

“Syed Ali Shah Gilani of Jamati Islami was interrupted by 
NC members when he tried to speak. He critici.sed the Bill and 
described it as against the people’s interest. There were 
exchanges between him and the treasury benches. After tearing 
the Bill into pieces, Mr, Gilani also walked out. 

“Later, the House passed the Bill with voice vote without the 
minister piloting the Billl replying to the points raised during 



Epilogue 


189 


the discussion.” 

From a detailed examination of the provisions of the Bill it 
was clear that only slight changes of inconsequential nature had 
been made in the text of the Ordinance when it was presented 
in the form of the Bill; the basic structure of the legislation was 
maintained. The State people have thus lost freedom and are 
entirely at the mercy of Government and administration. The 
fruits of freedom struggle gained bit by bit since 1931 when 
the first uprising against despotic rule took place, have been 
snatched away by those who claimed to be champions of 
freedom. Even llie small liberties guaranteed by the Dogra 
Maharaja in the 1934 Constitution have been suppressed. The 
sword of Dcmocles in the shape of Public Safety Act will remain 
hanging over the heads of those who do not see eye to eye 
with the authorities or toe the line chalked out by the National 
Conference leadership for them. Even if the sword does not fall 
the fear of its falling any moment will prevent a freedom lover 
from acting with any sign of independence. After having had a 
whiff of fresh air for a few months while labouring under the 
illusion that Janata revolution had crossed the frontier and 
emancipated him too after thirty years, a Kashmiri has been forc- 
ed to return to his shell and isolation as before. Resentment and 
sullenness have gone underground to strengthen the hands of 
anti-Indian groups and politicians. 

This would explain why calm has descended upon the political 
life in the State for the past few months. Nevertheless, it would 
be dangerous to rely on the apparent tranquillity when lava of 
anger and dissatisfaction is simmering just below the surface. 
Suppression of free thought and elementary human rights has 
never brought peace to resentful people anywhere in the world. 
The fate of Emergency and the first National Conference Govern- 
ment (1947 — 53) are glaring proofs of this truth. The entire 
history of civilized humankind is replete with instances in which 
mighty perpetrators of misrule and oppression who believed they 
Were unassailable, came to an inglorious and dismal end. Can 
it be different in the case of Abdullah coterie? 

Commenting editorially on adoption of the Bill and reflecting 
public opinion in the State the Kashmir Times under the caption 
“Shackels on Liberties” observed : 



190 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


“By hustling through the black law called Public Safety Bill, 
ignoring strong opposition both inside and outside the Legis- 
lative Assembly, Sheikh Abdullah’s 9-month old government 
has only smeared its face. It is the blackest piece of treachery 
against the people who elected the government on the categorical 
assurances that their civil liberties will be restored and funda- 
mental rights fully protected. 

“The Public Safety Bill, as passed by the Legislative Assembly 
amidst unprecedented scences and protests by the opposition, 
docs not make any basic departure from the Ordinance on the 
subject that it replaces. It gives the Government powers to 
detain any citizen without bringing charges against him, without 
giving any opportunity to him to defend himself and even in 
most cases without commum'cating the grounds for his detention. 
It imposes curbs on the freedom of the press empowering the 
Government to seize any document, including a newspaper. 

“The Chief Minister had not adhered to assurances that the 
State Government would await the Centre’s decision on the 
question of preventive detention. . .its decision to go ahead with 
arming itself with the authoritarian and repulsive enactment has 
only proved that the present ruling clique in the State has no 
regard for democratic norms and practices.” 

Do the Janata leaders realize that they committed a blunder 
in betraying the Kashmiris and in allowing the National Confer- 
ence to capture power through fraud, intimidation and terror ? 
Possibly most of them believe that no alternative was left to 
them but to abandon the Kashmiris to their misfortune which 
they have suffered since 1947. Nevertheless, this is hardly the 
way to bring the Kashmir problem nearer solution or to integrate 
the State with the Union. The longer India fails to induce the 
Kaslimiris to voluntarily join the mainstream of Indian public 
life the more complicated and difficult the problem is bound to 
grow. Today no Indian state other than Jammu and Kashmir 
carries on its statute book a cruel law like the Public Safety Act 
to run its administration. Kashmiris pertinently ask why they 
should have been allowed to be singled out for being trampled 
upon by a group of unscrupulous men from amidst themselves 
to fulfil their lust for power ? Why should those great patriots 



Epilogue 


191 


who destroyed congress dictatorship and claim to have brought 
second freedom to the country feel paralysed when Kashmiris are 
being crushed under the heal of dcpotic rule in the State ? Why do 
fountains of justice run dry in their case ? The general impression 
is that like their predecessors in office, Janata Government too 
does not believe that the Kashmiris as a class can be trusted to 
be loyal citizens of India and have, therefore, to be kept under 
tlie leash. What it implies and how disastrous it can be in its 
consequences should be obvious to any farsighted student of 
Public affairs. Appeasement of one caucus or another is certainly 
not the way of making Kashmiris as part of Indian nation. 

It is however foolish to unduly stress the role of the Central 
Government or the Janata Party in bringing the Kashmir State 
in line with other States under the new dispensation. Fosterin g 
of Kashmir democracy solely depends on the capacity of t he 
Kaslimiris themselves to stand up, organise and fight for liberty 
w ithin tlieiramework oi'The Indian Constitution. F or allowing 
National Conference to play the fraud and capture power 
Kashmiris are no less responsible than Janata Party. They need 
to learn a lesson from what has happened and refuse fo" r emain 
cowed down . If a number of valiant and intelligent men and 
women decide to form a well-knit political party of like-minded 
men devoted to the cause and unswervingly stand by it it will not 
be long before the usurpers are discredited and thrown out. My 
opinion formed after gaining bitter and varied experience during 
the three months of electioneering is that there are tens of 
thousands of men and women in the Valley, as all over the State, 
eager and prepared to suffer for achievement of democracy; what 
is needed is a sincere, honest and selfless leadership. 

The Central Janata leadership has missed the bus which may 
not come their way again. The Kashmiris are not to blame if 
the name of Janata has ceased to attract them. After the night- 
mare through which they have passed and the traumatic experi- 
ence they have made, it will be very difficult to rally them round 
the Janata banner. And for this the responsibility should be laid 
at the door of Janata highups. Nevertheless, a strong social base 
for fighting dictational trends and authoritarian tendencies exists. 
Let a few men and women of unquestioned integrity, sincerity 




m 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


and merit come forward to lake up the historic task of organis- 
ing and leading the trodden lovers of liberty and justice to 
victory. Such a band v/ill fmd that their call will not go in vain; 
it v.'ill be readily and warmly responded in all the three rigions 
of Jammu &. Kashmir. 



Appendices 



APPENDIX A 


My dear Shri Mehta, 


House No. 1 3A 
Jawahar Nagar, 
Srinagar Kashmir, 
April 27, 1977 


I have just heard that my name has been included in the list 
of the members of the ad hoc committee formed to organise the 
Jammu and Kashmir Janata unit. While I thank you for the 
honour you have done me, I have to say that I am surprised at 
it. Neither you nor your two colleagues spoke to me about it 
during your stay here, nor did Maulana Masoodi or Mr. G.M.D. 
Karra make any mention of it in our frequent talks. 

It is against the basic principles of the political philosophy in 
which I believe to be a member of any political party. For that 
reason I have not belonged to any party during the past twenty- 
live years. When I, along with Mr. Karra, flew into Srinagar 
from New Delhi on 1 5th of April I made a statement to this cficct 
in a Press conference at the airport. 

No doubt, I am deeply interested in seeing that the Janata 
parly comes out with flying colours in the forthcoming Assembly 
elections and to this end I have pledged my fullest cooperation 
and support to Maulana Masoodi and Mr. Karra. 

From the day that the Indian subcontinent achieved indepen- 
dence, I have unhappily and helplessly witnessed politicians in 
power or without it, trampling under feet human and democratic 
rights of the Kaslimiris; hooliganism and corruption have 
hccomc a conspicuous feature of our social and public life; free 
voice of the people has been ruthlessly curbed; all elections to 
the State Legislature or to the Parliament have been rigged since 
1947; never were the electors given the opportunity to choose 
their true representatives freely and fearlessly. It is my ardent 
desire to see that this sordid state of affairs came to an end. 

With the birth of Janata parly and the recent upheaval in 


196 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


India in which totalitarian forces were crushed, a hope has been 
kindled in us that the party may also prove instrumental in laying 
the foundations of democracy in Jammu and Kashmir State. 
That is the reason why I have become enthusiastic, despite my 
ill health, in whole-heartedly supporting the Janata party. 
Nevertheless, to be a member of the party is a different matter 
and, for reasons staled above, I regret ray inability to associate 
myself with the parly as a member. 

Your announcement has put me in an embarrassing position. 
While I cannot be a member of the Janata Party I do not, at 
the same time, want to act in a manner whieh will be exploited 
by the opponents to the detriment of the cause dear to my heart. 

I wonder if it will be convenient to you to delete my name 
from the list of members of the ad hoc committee. 

If, however, there is any difficulty in doing so, I would suggest 
that I shall function as a member of the committee during the 
period of the elections but should be excused from continuing 
as such when the elections arc over. 

In any ease, you may rest assured that my services, whatever 
they are worth, will be at the disposal of the Janata unit for 
the achievement of the objective stated earlier. 

With kind regards. 

Your sincerely, 
Prem Nath Bazaz 


Shri Asoka Mehta 
Janata Parly 
Jantar Mantar Road 
New Delhi 



Appcmlix A 


197 


Tel: 651658 

Asoka Mchia Jaya Rose Farm, 

LL. D., D. Liu. DLF Colony, 

Chattarpur Village, 
Via Mehrauli, 

New Delhi 110030. 
May 4, 1977 

Dear Shri Baza?., 

Thank you for your letter of 27th April. It reached me only 
yesterday. 

1 regret your name was included in the ad hoc committee 
without seeking your consent. Maulana had suggested your 
name and I presumed that he had sought your consent — and 
perhaps he assumed that I had done it ! 

If it is against your principles or conscience to be a member 
of a political party, you can always resign from the committee 
explaining to the public your position and assuring your support 
to the Janata Party and its unshakable anchorage in democracy. 

Our pledge for free elections in your state remains firm and 
inviolable. 

Yours sincerely, 
Asoka Mehta 


Shri Prem Nath Bazaz 
House No. 13 A 
Jawahar Nagar 
Srinagar, Kashmir 



APPENDIX B 


Forest Lodge 
Srinagar, Kashmir 
June 30, 1977 

EXPRESS TELEGRAM 

SHRI MORARJI DESAI 
PRIME MINISTER 
NE^V DELHI 

YOUR ASSURANCE ABOUT REMOVAL OF PARTISAN 
OFnaALS, COMPLETE IMPARTIALITY OF ADMINISTRATION 
AND HRMNESS OF POLICE IN DEALING WITH HOOLIGANS 
REMAIN UNFULHLLED, TERRORISATION OF CITIZENS 
ESPEQALLY JANATA WORKERS CONTINUES CEASELESSLY 
WITH POLICE CONNIVANCE. SOME BIG OFFICERS ENCOURAGE 
COM.MUNAL, SECTIONAL AND ANTI-INDIA PROPAGANDA. 
ATMOSPHERE SURCHARGED WTTH RELIGIOUS AND 
SECESSIONIST FRENZY. APPREHENSIONS DEEPEN THAT AT 
CERTAIN PLACES POLLING BOOTHS WILL BE CAPTURED BY 
NATIONAL CONTERENCE HOODLUMS OR THEY WILL 
THREATEN VOTERS AND COMPEL THEM EITHER NOT TO 
VOTE OR VOTE FOR CONTERENCE CANDID.ATES. REPORTS 
RECEIVED FROM MANY CONSTITUENCIES INDICATE POLICE 
ARRANGEMENTS TOTALLY INADEQUATE TO MAKE POLL 
FREE AND FAIR. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES PARTY 
LEADERS FEEL DISMAYED. THE BEST I CAN DO IS TO BRING 
GRAVE SITUATION TO YOUR NOTICE. 


M.S. MASOODI 
CONSTNER JAN.^TA PARTY 



Appendix B 


199 


Phone No. 5684 


Telegrams *. Janata 


Janata Parly 

, Jammu and Kashmir State, 

Forest Lodge, Maulana Azad Road, 

• Srinagar-190001, Kashmir. 

Ref. No. 305/JP/77 Dated : 30-6-1977 

My dear Shri Jha, 

I enclose copy of a telegram I have just despatched to Shri 
Morarji Desai, Prime Minister, which briefly describes the 
feelings of Janata Parly Ic.adcrship about the political situation 
which again .show.s signs of deterioration. 

Had proper and strong measures been taken in wake of the 
visits of Union Ministers as all of them had assured us that your 
government is determined to do, we have no doubt that by now 
political life in the valley would have returned to normalcy. But 
even the few but vital commitments made by the three Ministers 
in their public utterances of curbing hooliganism and punishing 
biassed ofTicials have not been fulfilled. Thus, only after a few 
days of the ministers’ departure, both hudlums and officials 
with anti-Janata tendencies particularly in the Police Depart- 
nicnt, feel emboldened to readily assist National Conference 
Workers in their nefarious activities in different parts of the 
valley. I have instances where big officials guide and direct 
Conference activists in their propaganda work and smaller 
government employees participate in public gatherings and even 
address audiences from platform with impunity. Some police 
station officers and their underlings have achieved notoriety in 
harassing our men at the instance of National Conference 
leaders. 

We have brought these facts to the notice of the Additional 
Inspector General and concerned Superintendents of Police from 
time to time but to no purpose. Instead, our active workers 



2C0 Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 

who form the superior cadre of our movement (including pol- 
ling agents) have been put behind the bars not for any defiance 
of law but only because the National Conference leadership is 
afraid that these workers if left free can effectively mobilise 
numberless voters in favour of Janata. 

Though my colleague, Shri Prem Nath Bazaz, has met Shri 
K. T. Satarwala many a time and put various proposals before 
him to arrest the deteriorating situation and, more particularly, 
about adequate police arrangements on the polling day to protect 
peaceful citizens against criminal intimidation by miscreants, 
to enable them to vote fearlessly, we are not sure that foolproof 
arrangements are in the making. From all wc observe it is 
abundantly clear that the Government is unprepared and will 
be taken unawares on Sunday to the utter frustration of the aim 
of “free and fair election” which has been so much trumpeted 
about by a number of distinguished and responsible personali- 
ties including yourself. 

We do not seek any favours but insist on neutrality and 
cficctive functioning of your administration, impartiality of 
Police officials and curbing of hooliganism to make the elec- 
tions free. Of this we do not find any signs in the valley. 

Tliat is why I have been compelled to despatch the telegram 
to Shri Morarji Desai and why I address this letter to you. It is 
for you to sec what action is needed to be taken to set the 
matters right before it is too late. 

With regards, 

Yours sincerely, 

M.S. Masoodi 

Convener, Ad Hoc Committee 

Enel : One leave 


Shri L.K. Jha 
Governor 
J&K State 
Srinagar 



Appendix B 


201 


Governor 
Jammu & Kashmir 


Raj Bhawan, 
Srinagar 
July 1, 1977 

My dear Maulana Sahib, 

I got your letter No. 305/JP/77, dated the 30th June late last 
night, I confess I foimd it a little unexpected. As you know, in 
order to ensure peaceful impartial polling, a number of steps 
were taken. Strong police reinforcements have been obtained 
from the Centre. A large number of anti-social elements have 
been apprehended. Following these, as you would have observ- 
ed, peaceful conditions have prevailed throughout the State, 
except in Srinagar where too the clashes have been mainly 
between traditionally hostile groups. Jammu region has already 
had completely peaceful polling. 

Every complaint about the impartiality of any official has 
been promptly looked into and a very large number of changes 
of officials suspected of partiality have been made. With reference 
to your statement that some big ofBcials guide and direct 
National Conference activists, I would say that only when speci- 
fic instances are brought to the notice of the administration that 
action can be taken. I have always been available to leaders of 
all political parties and I have had the pleasure of meeting you 
on a number of occasions in recent days. I make it a point to 
get any complaints which are made to me investigated promptly. 
Shri Satarawala and the Additional Inspector General of Police 
have also assured me that they have been taking action on com- 
plaints brought to their notice. 

As regards your apprehensions regarding police arrangements 
on the polling day, I should like to assure you that we are doing 
every thing possible to prevent intimidation, hooliganism and 



202 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


capture of polling booths. If you can indicate to us the polling 
booths or areas about which you arc apprehensive, we shall 
certainly take special steps to strengthen the police arrangements 
there. 

With regards, 

Yours sincerely, 
L.K. Jha 


Maulana M.S, Masoodi 
Convener, Janata Party 
M.A. Road 
Srinagar 


Appendix B 


203 


Phone No. 5684 


Telegrams ; Janata 


Janata Party 

Jammu and Kashmir State, 
Forest Lodge, Maulana Azad Road, 
Srinagar- 190001, Kashmir. 


Dated: 2-7-1977 

My dear Shri Jha, 

Your letter of today came to my hand when I returned from 
Shopian this evening. I thank you for the same. 

At this late hour I do not propose to enter into any contro- 
versy about various points to which you have referred and 
which arc not borne out by facts. We have repeatedly brought 
to the notice of the Government ofiicials at various levels the 
complaints stated in my previous letter but with little satisfac- 
tory results. 

Despite the claim made that the situation in Srinagar is under 
control, I am afraid that you arc kept in the dark about the 
actual happenings and the methods which arc employed to deal 
with the depradations of the hooligan elements and the callous- 
ness of the administration towards their victims. Even today a 
number of Janata supporters were beaten, blood was shed, 
homes and shops looted and property damaged while the 
National Conference carried out their procession through some 
streets of the city. Some of the wounded were brought to our 
office in blood-soaked clotlics while others were sent to hospital. 
A number of molested women too came crying and bewailing 
their lot. 

However, we are deeply worried indeed about the police 
arrangements on Sunday when polling is to take place all over 
the valley. The Kashmir Police has, let it be frankly admitted, 
failed in the discharge of their responsibility and amply dis- 
played that most of its members arc deeply influenced by partisan 



204 Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 

politics. Tliis is most unfortunate but can be overlooked at 
great risk by us. 

In the absence of concrete proposals and in view of past bitter 
experience I do not know what value to attach to your assurance 
that cverj’thing possible is being done to prevent intimidation, 
hooliganism and capture of polling booths. I think that the only 
effective measure would be to deploy entirely C.R.P. under their 
own officers from 2nd July till the counting of votes is completed 
and excitement disappears. 

The C.R.P. should not only guard the booths but also make 
rounds in the nearby areas so that all chances of intimidation, 
hooliganism and terrorisation of voters arc reduced to minimum. 
The officers of the C.R.P. should be instructed what is expected 
of them while on duty on these fateful days. This alone in my 
opinion can allay the apprehensions of peaceful citizens though 
I continue to doubt if free and fair elections arc possible after 
what has happened during the past fortnight. 

With regards. 

Yours sincerely, 

M. S. Masoodi 
Covener, Ad Hoc Committee 


Shri L.K. Jha 
Governor 
Jammu & Kashmir 
Srinagar 



APPENDIX C 


Janata Party 
Jammu & Kashmir 

I3/7PC/77 Forest Lodge 

Srinagar, Kashmir 
14-6-77 

My dear Asokji, 

Nobody knows it better than you that due to my old age and 
ill health I took up most rclunctantly the onerous task of 
organising the J & K Janata Unit on the clear understanding 
that the Central Party will cooperate with me in every manner. 
To my dismay I find that the assistance I had c.xpcctcd to receive 
is not forthcoming and it is becoming increasingly difficult for 
me and my colleagues to shoulder the responsibility of success- 
fully leading the Kashmir Unit. 

Our Unit is barely one and half months old. You can imagine 
the tremendous odds we had to confront in building up the 
organisation and in preparing ounsclvcs to fight the forthcoming 
assembly elections against well equipped and well established 
parlies like the National Conference and the Congress which 
have been in the field for decades. 

Yet in the very short time w'c have patiently and with determi- 
nation stood up and thrown a serious challenge to the opponents 
who arc using all fair and unfair means to defeat us. Their 
resources too arc immense. 

In these circumstances, if we fail to secure the minimum 
necessities to run the organisation, I am afraid it will become 
impossible to carry on and I shall be compelled to retire. 

On 18th May I sent a memorial through one of our colleagues, 
Maulvi Ifiikhar Hussain Ansari, to Shri Chandra Shekhar, 
President Janata Party, apprising him of our minimum needs. 
I Was assured that our demands were reasonable and would be 
fulfilled without delay. 

I think I should point out that assistance delayed is assis- 
fnnee denied. It would not serve our purpose if the essential 
necessities do not reach us in time. 



206 


Democracy through Intimidation and Terror 


There arc other matters too wluch I would like to bring to 
your notice and speedy atention. 

Despite the fact that Kaslunir Janata Party is hardly one 
and half months old we tried to be in time in drawing our plans 
and implementing them. But sometimes Central intervention 
puts brakes on our speed which is detrimental to our cause. I 
do not want to make a long narration about it. But I would 
refer to one. 

We prepared an election manifesto with a sense of responsi- 
bility keeping in view the sentiments, emotions as well as the 
reasonable demands of the people. This is a document which 
would have offset the damaging propaganda done by our oppo- 
nents. We consulted our Jammu colleagues about it and they 
suggested certain alterations which were made. It was printed 
and we intended to release it to the press. 

Now we arc told by our friend Krishna Kantji that it has to 
be got approved by the Central Party which may take many 
days. This will render it practically useless because our candi- 
dates and workers will be deprived of a powerful weapon with 
which to face the opposition and its pernicious propaganda. 

I have only to add that you and other central leaders may 
kindly realise the unenviable position in which I have been put 
and I crave a favourable and sympathetic attitude if the Janata 
revolution has to be brought to fruition in Jammu and Kashmir 
State. 

I, therefore, thought of writing this letter to you and impress- 
ing upon 3'ou the gravity of the situation. I can only hope that 
you will kindly take up the matter immediately with the central 
leadership. 

With kindest regards, 

Yours sincerely, 

M. M. Sayced Masoodi 
Convener, Ad Hoc Committtc 

Shri Asoka Mehta 
Janata Party Office 
Jantar Mantar Road 
New Delhi